New Jazz Adds – 2/23/2021
Joe Chambers – Samba de Maracatu (Blue Note): “On Samba de Maracatu, Chambers asserts himself more as a mallet player, particularly on the vibraphone. Throughout the album, he uses the vibraphone as the lead melodic and improvisational voice that often converses with Merritt’s piano accompaniments and solos. While Samba de Maracatu isn’t a Brazilian jazz album in this strictest sense, Chambers utilizes various rhythms and indigenous Brazilian percussion instruments on several pieces, including the title track, which references the syncretic Afro-Brazil rhythms that were originated in the north-east region of Brazil.” (http://www.bluenote.com/joe-chambers-samba-de-maracatu-out-feb-26/) Chambers offers three original songs and spreads out creating waves of music from comrades including Bobby Hutcherson’s ”Visions”, Horace Silver’s “Ecaroh” and Wayne Shorter’s “Rio” and also reaches out for a few deep standards including “You And The Night And The Music”. The music would truly brighten up the mood in any room. Click here to listen to the title song on this release.
Cameron Graves – Seven (Mack Avenue): “Pianist, composer and vocalist Cameron Graves calls the music he’s architected for his new Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group release thrash-jazz, though that only begins to tell the story. Yes, upon an initial listen, the juggernaut metal force and hardcore precision of Seven can knock you back. After all, Graves grew up in metal-rich Los Angeles, headbanging to Living Colour as a kid and, after immersing himself in jazz and classical studies for years, reigniting his love for hard rock through records by Pantera, Slipknot and his most profound metal influence, Swedish titans Meshuggah. But listen closer to Seven, Graves’ follow-up to 2017’s Planetary Prince (which Pitchfork called a “rousing debut”). “Los Angeles is a melting pot of everything,” Graves points out. His father, Carl Graves, was a great soul singer, and you can hear his imprint along with the likes of Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding, on “Eternal Paradise,” which marks the younger Graves’ vocal debut. Throughout the album, the generation of 1970s jazz-rock fusion pioneers is a source of inspiration. “Our mission is to continue that legacy of advanced music that was started by bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever,” Graves says. “That was instilled in us by the masters. Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock—these guys sat with us and told us, ‘Look, man, you’ve got to carry this on.’” (https://www.mackavenue.com/artists/cameron-graves) The pieces are intense and explosive, reminiscent of Mahavishnu while also offering straight jazz and or giving a nod to classical roots in “Fairytales”. This is a terrific set – advances music indeed! Click here, then click Tracklist to listen to the songs on this disc.
Randal Despommler – Dio C’e (Outside In Music): “Dio C’Ã¨ (“God Exists”), the debut solo album of saxophonist and composer Randal Despommier, is an autobiographical playlist of poignant, nostalgic, spirited, and uplifting new music. Featuring Despommier’s quartet and guest artists Aubrey Johnson, Ben Monder, and multi-grammy winner Jimmy Haslip, the album captures various scenes of Despommier’s life, from living/travelling in Italy, to moving to New York City. Contemporary jazz, Italian pop, alternative rock, Gregorian chant, and high-octane, gospel-infused grooves are all present in this bold display of artistry.” (https://vintagevinyl.com/UPC/762183558524) “Likened to a “Rimbaud hipster” (The Rest is Jazz), Randal Despommier’s music is a genres-and -centuries spanning amalgam of jazz, blues, and western classical idioms, resulting in a distinct twenty first-century compositional voice. Since moving to New York City in 2013, Despommier, a native of Metairie, Louisiana, has become a part of the New York jazz scene, performing in the Williamsburg Music Center, Cornelia Street Café, The Cell Theater, and other NYC jazz havens.” (https://www.randaldespommier.com/about) Click here to listen to songs on this disc.
John Lang – Now Ear This (Self-produced): “For what it is, bassist John Lang’s fourth album, Now Ear This, is quite well done. For jazz fans, the dilemma lies there, precisely in what it is—a series of eleven rock/fusion themes, nine written by Lang, which would be right at home on a smooth jazz/easy listening radio station…. The album was recorded in two “sessions,” with five songs performed by a quartet, six by an octet.” ( https://www.allaboutjazz.com/now-ear-this-john-lang-self-produced) The musicians are Avi Rothbard: guitar; Matthew Sheens: piano; John Lang: bass; Mike Campenni: drums. Session 2: Dan Blankinship: trumpet; Ken Gioffre: alto sax; Tim Armacost: tenor sax; Matthew MacDonald: trombone; Jay Azzolina: guitar; Gary Fisher: piano; John Lang: bass; John Romagnoli: drums. Over-dub crew—Lang: keyboards; Romagnoli: percussion; Jason DeBord: Hammond organ; Milo Lang: vocal (11). Click here to listen to a sample from this release.
Chad Lefkowitz-Brown – Quartet Sessions (La Reserve): “Hailed as a “Sax Phenom” by the New York Daily News, Chad LB has toured globally as a bandleader, and with superstars ranging from Chris Botti to Taylor Swift. He has been a featured soloist with premiere ensembles like the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, and he was formerly a prominent member of the multi GRAMMY winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra…. Since graduating from the Brubeck Institute, Chad has performed throughout six continents, and has appeared at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Super Bowl, and Madison Square Garden. His debut album, Imagery Manifesto, was named “Debut Album of the Year” by jazz critic and author, Doug Ramsey, and two of his most recent recordings as a leader, “Onward,” and “Live at The Bridge” feature jazz legend, Randy Brecker, with whom he has toured and headlined jazz festivals throughout the United States and Europe.” (https://www.chadlb.com/bio) Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.
Joe Lovano – Garden Of Expression (ECM): “The debut album of Joe Lovano’s Trio Tapestry was one of 2019’s most talked-about releases. The trio’s musical concept – the Boston Globe spoke of ‘utterances of hushed assurance, lyricism and suspense’ – is taken to the next level on its second album, Garden of Expression, a recording distinguished by its intense focus. Lovano, a saxophonist whose reach extends across the history of modern jazz and beyond, plays with exceptional sensitivity in Trio Tapestry. And the music he writes for this group – tenderly melodic or declamatory, harmonically open, rhythmically free, and spiritually involving – encourages subtle and differentiated responses from his creative partners. Joe describes their interaction as ‘magical’. Carmen Castaldi’s space-conscious approach to drumming further refines an improvisational understanding that he and Lovano have shared since the 1970s. The trio is also a wonderful context for Marilyn Crispell’s solos, counter melodies, and improvisational embellishments, and her feeling for sound-colour helps the chamber music character of the group to flower. The details of the music are beautifully realized in this recording made in the highly responsive acoustics of the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in Lugano and produced by Manfred Eicher.” (http://www.joelovano.com/albums/detail/39/Garden-of-Expression) Wonderful music throughout. Click here and scroll down to listen to the songs on this disc.
Janis Mann & Kenny Werner – Dreams Of Flying (Pancake Records): “Award-winning vocalist Janis Mann is described by critic Andrew Gilbert as “brilliant,” and by critic Don Heckman as “one of the Southland’s finest jazz vocal artists.” Her warm alto voice imbues each choice song she sings with cool but concentrated emotion…. In addition to working with the great pianist Kenny Werner on two outstanding recording projects, Janis has performed with Diane Schuur, Roy Haynes, Terrell Stafford, Dave Frishberg, Jack Sheldon, John Clayton, the Caribbean Jazz Project, Roberta Gambarini, and many other jazz luminaries.” (https://www.janismann.com/bio) The rhythm section includes Drew Dress (bass) and Duduka Da Fonseca (drums) with special guest Larry Koonse (guitar). Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
Greg Murphy – Cool Water (Whaling City Sound): “Greg Murphy has done it again! This impressive recording, Cool Water, is his third on Whaling City Sound and sixth as a leader. It really “swings.” A dynamic, lyrical pianist, he showcases, yet again, his chops as a composer and arranger. Of the twelve tunes, seven are original and each song is inspired by real life experiences and the special people in his life. Not one to be musically pigeon-holed, he says, “I’m a musician but I do primarily identify as a jazz musician.” Along with the originals, Murphy has chosen an array of jazz standards and pop classics. He came of age during the 1970s when he was exposed to a variety of music that shaped him. “While I was in high-school I started listening to Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, Weather Report and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. Through them I got into Coltrane, McCoy Tyner and started working backwards towards Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. They were my musical heroes in my formative years.” For twenty years Murphy was fortunate to work with Rashied Ali, giving him a direct connection to John Coltrane. Throughout Cool Water, Coltrane’s influence as well as McCoy Tyner’s style is heard in his compositions and playing.” (https://gregmurphyjazz.com/) Click here to listen to “Cuttin’ Trane’s Corners” and other songs from this release.
R + R = Now – R + R = Now / Live (Blue Note): “The origin of R+R=NOW came in 2017 when Glasper was asked to put together an all-star line-up for a show at SXSW. With his history—producing for everyone from Common to Herbie Hancock and exploding jazz boundaries with his Black Radio series—the Houston-born keyboardist could be choosy. Martin, of L.A., was best-known as a chief architect of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. NOLA native Adjuah turned heads with his socially charged 2017 Centennial trilogy, a comprehensive celebration of Africa’s sonic diaspora. Philly’s Hodge is a founding member of the Robert Glasper Experiment and has scored for Spike Lee and music-directed for Maxwell. McFerrin, born in Brooklyn, is Bobby McFerrin’s oldest son and rolls with Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder camp. Grand Rapids native Tyson plays with Esperanza Spalding and has become a regular in all Glasper’s formations due to his versatility. Their diverse wealth of experience melded with profound ease. “There was no rehearsal and no plan. Just a quick soundcheck,” says Glasper of the band’s Austin debut. And yet, “We were vibing, listening to each other, and coming up with stuff on the spot that was so dope.” “R+R stands for ‘Reflect’ and ‘Respond’,” says Glasper, an idea that came to him via Nina Simone. Facing backlash for her politics, Simone was asked, more or less, why she didn’t just shut up and sing. Her answer: “an artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” Glasper adds: “When you reflect what’s going on in your time and respond to that, you can’t not be relevant. So ‘R’ plus ‘R’ equals ‘NOW’.” “Everyone in this band is a six-foot-tall black guy who didn’t come from an affluent background,” says Adjuah. “In order for us all to make it into that room together, we’ve had to go through some hell, fight for some things, build up a lot of armor, and do a lot ourselves to forge our realities, to become who we are. We’re all very aware of that, so anytime we get together, it’s a celebration.” (http://www.bluenote.com/rrnow-to-release-live-album/) Click here to listen to “How Much A Dollar Cost”.
Mike Scott – Collecting Things (Self-produced): “Guitarist Mike Scott plays with equal parts energy and spirit, lyricism, swing, creativity, a soulful and expressive touch, and always with a well crafted sense of rhythm. Mike has been an active part of the Los Angeles jazz scene since the late 90’s when he started playing his first professional gigs. In addition to his accomplishments as a guitarist Mike is also well known for his compositions. Mike has enjoyed a varied career performing, recording, composing and teaching. He has performed throughout the United States and abroad, recorded for television and film soundtracks, played as a sideman for a number of CD projects and recorded his own albums as well. (https://www.guitaristmikescott.com/about.html) “Scott’s newest album includes 9 original songs and features Joe Bagg on piano and organ, Darek Oles on bass, and Jake Reed on drums.” (https://www.guitaristmikescott.com/) Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
David Sills – Natural Lines (Gut String Records): “Los Angeles-based reed player David Sills has usually led a quintet with guitar, piano, bass and drums. Most of his recent performances have taken place in venues lacking a piano, so he began adding a second guitar. The change in instrumentation had a side benefit, opening up new musical possibilities and colors. Having two guitars in the rhythm section is common in rock music, but unusual in jazz, so it offers a novel listening experience (especially for jazz guitar fans). The majority of the music was written by Sills and the guitarists. In fact the album opens with one each from the guitar section: Mike Scott (Sills’ regular guitarist) contributed the serpentine “Minor Monk,” which highlights both guitars and Stills’ tenor saxophone harmonizing the head, before breaking into a series of solos (with the rhythm section alternating between the quirky rhythm of the theme and straight swing). Guest Larry Koonse wrote the cleverly titled “Sync Or Swim,” which takes the soloists through a challenging set of chord changes. After the repeat of the head the arrangement fades out on solos traded between Sills and Koonse. “Sonny’s Side” is Sills’ homage to Sonny Rollins. He also addresses the jazz tradition in the form of contrafacts (the bebop practice of writing new melodies over the chord changes of standard songs). “Foggy Daze” references “A Foggy Day” (and includes a memorable three-way conversation between guitars and tenor), while “Mellow Stone” is based on “In A Mellow Tone.” Alan Broadbent’s bossa nova “Quiet Is The Star” finds Scott on acoustic rhythm guitar, with Koonse’s electric guitar sharing the melody with Sills’ alto flute, as well as playing a memorable solo. Miles Davis’ “Nardis” is another alto flute feature, also offering solo space for Scott’s acoustic guitar solo, as well as a notable solo turn from double bassist Blake White. “Jones’ Tones” finds him trading solos with drummer Tim Pleasant. Closer “Interplay” is an especially appropriate Bill Evans cover, as the original recording included guitarist Jim Hall. Lots of good playing here, in a warm, swinging setting.” (https://www.allaboutjazz.com/natural-lines-david-sills-double-guitar-quintet-gut-string-records) Click here to listen to “Natural Lines” from this set.
Roseanna Vitro – Listen Here (Skyline): “2020 brings Roseanna Vitro’s 1984 vinyl recording, “Listen Here” for the first time to streaming and cd. formats. Featuring: Kenny Barron pno., Buster Williams bs, Ben Riley dms, Arnett Cobb ten sax, Duduka da Fonseca perc, Scott Hardy guitar and Bliss Rodriguez (piano on “Centerpiece,”) Fred Hersch arrangements, Steve Allen liner notes, this was the birth of a 40-year recording career.” The songs sound as fresh today as they must have when the set was released. Click here to listen for yourself.