New Jazz News – 2/12/2019
Betty Bryant – Project 88 (Bry-Mar): Singer/composer/pianist Betty Bryant has been a jazz figure of note since the fifties and upon turning 88, she decided to record some of her favorite songs, half of which are original compositions. The covers include a smooth versions of “Oh, Lady Be Good” and “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” and her own compositions are really fine. The disc also features wonderful accompaniment by Tony Guerrero (trumpet); Tomas Gargano, and Hussain Jiffry (alternating on bass); James Gadson, Kenny Elliott and Quentin Dennard Sr (alternating on drums); Robert Kyle (tenor sax, flute); Ryan Dragon (trombone); Jeff Driskill (alto sax); Jay Mason (bari sax); Cassio Duarte (percussion) and Kleber Jorge (guitar, vocal on 1 song). Bryant sounds wonderful even at this age and the disc is delightful throughout. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Joey DeFrancesco – On The Key Of The Universe (Mack Avenue): Mostly known for his organ playing and composing, Joey DeFrancesco plays additional keys and trumpet playing to his resume on this disc. He also composed all ten songs in this set. Backing musicians include Billy Hart (drums), Troy Roberts (soprano sax, bass, tenor and alto sax), Sammy Figueroa (percussion) and special guest Pharaoh Sanders (tenor sax and vocals). The music flows smoothly and vibrantly throughout the disc and reminds the listener of the energy and reverence of the saxophone in the Sanders’ performances 50 years after the release of Karma, the landmark album by Sanders himself. (http://media.mackavenue.com/files/albums/209/mac1147_joey_defrancesco_final_pr.pdf) Click here to listen to an introduction to the disc and music.
The Gil Evans Orchestra – Hidden Treasures, Vol.1 (Self-produced): “In the ’70s composer and arranger Gil Evans, after years of outstanding studio arranging for Miles Davis and others, put together a performing orchestra which took influences from the jazz-rock and fusion concepts of the time…. This release is the first of three”. (https://www.allaboutjazz.com/hidden-treasures-vol-1-monday-nights-the-gil-evans-orchestra-bopper-spock-suns-music-review-by-jerome-wilson.php) “Gil’s sons, trumpeter Miles Evans and his brother Noah Evans are keeping the flame alive with “Hidden Treasures”, a trilogy of recordings of which “Monday Nights” is the first. The concept here, is to feature compositions that the Orchestra played live in the late 70s and early 80s. Miles Evans wrote and arranged “LL Funk” in which Kenwood Dennard (Dizzy Gillespie, Brand X, etc…) drives the music with a powerful funk beat, with Darryl Jones (Rolling Stones, Sting, Herbie Hancock, etc…) on bass. Special guests’ solos abound with keyboardist Paul Shaffer (Late Night with David Letterman), Vernon Reid (Living Color) bringing a thick almost heavy metal guitar tip to the track, and the icing on the cake is David Mann (Tower of Power), who weaves his bluesy, potent alto sax throughout the track. The recording closes with “Eleven,” a Gil Evans composition and arrangement, which originally appeared as “Petits Machins (Little Stuff)” on the 1968 Miles Davis recording, Filles de Kilimanjaro. The set closer is a bristling swinger, a fitting capper to this powerful set of absolutely stunning music. The groove is infectious, a potent platform for solos by alto saxophonist Chris Hunter (Michel Camilo, Manhattan Transfer, etc…), Charles Blenzig (Bill Evans) on electric piano and Alex Foster (Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, etc…)” who returns on tenor and continues to amaze.” (https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Treasures-One-Monday-Nights/dp/B07LFWPJ2G) This is a engaging and important release. Click here to listen to an introduction to this recording and an appreciation of Gil Evans.
Behn Gillece – Parallel Universe (Posi-Tone): Having also co-led four discs with saxophonist Ken Fowser, vibraphonist/composer Behn Gillece offers his fourth disc as a leader. He composed all of the songs on this disc and the variety is inviting and delightfully swinging. The other players on this disc are Stacy Dillard (tenor sax), Bruce Harris (trumpet), Art Hirahara (piano, Rhodes), David Wong (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums). In addition to Gillece’s wonderful vibes, each of the other players turn in solid solos and bring wonderful variety to this set. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Beverley Church Hogan – Can’t Get Out Of This Mood (Cafe Pacific): There are many amazing stories in the jazz world and singer Beverley Church Hogan has a new twist of her own. As a much younger woman, she was attracting a great deal of attention for her performances and was ready to broaden her touring and even had a recording offer from Capitol Records. It was like a dream come true, but there was one complication – she had a newborn baby and it would be difficult to impossible for her husband to go on the road as well. She decided that this wonderful opportunity would not be wonderful for her child and would also be hard on her husband and herself. The career was put on the shelf until about 15 years ago when she began a series of annual club dates. This is her first release and it is almost unbelievable that this could be the voice of an 83 year old singer. Her gentle vocals are truly beautiful! Hogan is backed up by John Proulx (piano), Ron Stout (trumpet, flugelhorn), Graham Dechter (guitar), Doug Webb (flute, tenor sax), Lyman Medeiros (bass), Clayton Cameron (drums) and Kevin Winard (percussion). Click here for an introduction to this disc by Hogan and Proulx.
Kuzu – Hiljaisuus (Aerophonic): Kuzu is a trio beyond the edge of standard jazz melody and only those who enjoy truly difficult music are likely to find enjoyment from this two song outing. Musicians are Dave Rempis (alto, tenor and bari sax), Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Tyler Damon (percussion). Intensity is the center and edge of they performance. “KUZU is a hard-charging but patient trio that came together in the fall of 2017, after saxophonist Dave Rempis, a stalwart of the Chicago improvised music scene, worked with both Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Tyler Damon (drums) individually as part of a lengthy solo tour of the U.S. that he undertook in the spring of that year. Dorji and Damon’s work as a guitar/percussion duo has become well-known, a highly refined and specific language developed through relentless touring and recording over the last few years, with a sound that straddles improvised music, rock, and any number of as-yet-undefined territories. These two provide an incredibly fresh take on the possibilities inherent to spontaneous composition. Superimposing Rempis into this mix was a logical next step after the relationships they’d forged individually.” (https://tashidorji.com/2018/05/25/new-band-kuzu-w-dave-rempis-tyler-damon/) Click here to listen to music from this disc.
Julian Lage – Love Hurts (Mack Avenue): Guitarist Julian Lage, who played here in Charlottesville last November, is paying us a new visit now: a new release on Mack Avenue Records showing off his terrific technique! His back-up players are a bit different than when he was here but the sound is still terrific! He is accompanied by Dave King (drums) and Jorge Roeder (bass) on this set. The selections on this disc range from two original compositions to old favorites like Boudleaux Bryant’s “Love Hurts” and Roy Orbison’s “Crying” to songs from the great American songbook like “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and two Keith Jarrett originals and Ornette Coleman’s “Tomorrow Is The Question”. His style is comparable to that of Nels Cline among others. This is a terrifically beautiful set. Click here to listen to a song from this disc.
Joe Policastro Trio – Nothing Here Belongs (JeruJazz): Fascinating trio led by bassist Joe Policastro and including Dave Miller (guitar) and Mikel Avery (drums). Policastro composed six of the nine songs here, with the covers ranging from Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”, way back to Santo & Johnny’s “The Wandering Sea” and resolving with Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place”. Each of those is good, but I would have to say the originals are the jewels in this crown. The performances seem mostly to come from the funk or soulful side rather than being rooted in jazz, but there is no denying their jazz roots and interplay. You can dance or not, but I guess your feet will be tapping at times. Nice groove! Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of three songs on this disc.
Dave Rempis – Brandon Lopez – Ryan Packard – The Early Bird Gets (Aerophonic): “The Early Bird Gets is the debut album by this working trio, comprised of journeyman Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis alongside two of the brightest talents in a younger generation of improvising musicians. Bassist Brandon Lopez is a musician whose virtuosity knows no bounds, currently one of the most in-demand bassists on the New York jazz and improvised music scene. Percussionist Ryan Packard counters that depth with his own breadth of interests, working in contemporary classical ensembles, indie rock bands, and jazz groups alike around Chicago, not to mention his doubling abilities on electronics. These two together provide a formidable rhythm section that can veer from hard-driving grooves to luscious soundscapes with total ease. As a trio, these three have put forth a work that may be the “jazziest” project any of them are involved with; a result that even the band members found surprising. But after honing their sound through live gigs in 2017 and early 2018, it became apparent that their free-improvised conversation kept returning to a similar destination: a three-way exploration of rhythm and tempo that left them working solidly within the jazz tradition. Not the one fixed into predictable sylistic corners, but the one defined by a spirit of boundless curiosity and exploration. A tradition they stretched back and forth like so much taffy.” (https://aerophonicrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-early-bird-gets) This is difficult music and for many will be difficult listening, but it is worth it. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
James Suggs – You’re Gonna Hear From Me (Arbors Records): Trumpeter/educator James Suggs has had a love affair with classic jazz from the swing to cool to Tin Pan Alley and other mainstream music including such composers as Sammy Cahn and Ellington and Hodges to Houston Person and Andre and Dory Previn. This set is jazzy and bluesy, typically on the classic side of cool. Three of the songs are Suggs’ originals. The players are Suggs (trumpet), Houston Person (tenor sax), Lafayette Harris (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Lewis Nash (drums). Suggs’ playing is sweet and full sounding throughout. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Sheldon Zandboer – Tipping Velvet (Chronograph): Pianist/keyboard player/composer Sheldon Zandboer offers his first disc emphasizing the power and beauty of melody in jazz. His performances are truly beautiful whether ballads or uptempo. He composed ten of the eleven songs on offer and co-wrote the other. He is supported by George Koller (bass), Bob Tildesley (trumpet, flugelhorn), and Andy Ericson (drums) with a guest appearance by vocalist Johanna Sillanpaa (on one song). The music is lively and beautiful and offers a goodly variety by shifting the instrumental leads. Flow is at the center. A beautiful disc. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.