New Jazz Adds – 2/25/2020
Joey Alexander – Warna (Verve): “A funny thing happened to Joey Alexander over the past five years, a whirlwind period during which he became the most brilliantly precocious talent in jazz history—that is, a renowned festival and concert-hall headliner; the youngest musician ever nominated for a Grammy Award in a jazz category; and a media favorite who’s earned a profile on 60 Minutes, a front-page profile in the New York Times and other premier coverage. As heard on WARNA, his new major-label Verve Records debut, he’s simply become one of the most expressive and thrilling pianist-composers currently at work in jazz. Alexander’s precocity can still stun concertgoers, but his music, including original work and personalized interpretations of great songs, has now taken its rightful place in the spotlight.” (https://joeyalexandermusic.com/about/) Accompanied by Larry Grenadier (bass), Kendrick Scott (drums) and guests Luisito Quintero (percussion on three songs) and Anne Drummond (flute on two), Alexander offers a dazzling set of ten originals and two covers. Click here to listen to the title song.
Randy Brecker – Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond (Piloo): Randy Brecker (trumpet, flugelhorn) joins forces with Ada Rovatti (tenor and soprano sax, vocals) who composed all of the songs on this disc. They have joined forces with Stella Brecker (vocals), Rodney Holmes (drums), David Kikoski (piano, fender rhodes), Alexander Claffy (bass), Adam Rogers (guitar), Jim Beard (keys, Hammond organ) and Cafe Da Silva (percussion). Given that line-up, one might expect some serious fire power, but actually the overall ensemble keeps the performance perky but not crazy. The horns do wail at times, but their sacred bond leans toward the blend. The blend is quite energetic and quite accessible. A straight ahead good time. Click here to check out the title and opening song.
Calle Loiza Jazz Project – There Will Never Be Another You (Self-produced): “Calle Loiza, the famous street in Santurce, Puerto Rico, has a long and colorful history as a center of culture and artistic creativity…. The Bomba rhythms are also known to have origins other areas near Calle Loiza among other areas in Puerto Rico, most notably the town of Loiza. It has a special significance for the members of this group, Calle Loiza Jazz Project. Starting in the late 1970s with the famous jazz club on Calle Loiza, Mini’s, it provided a place Orwell known jazz musicians to come and “sit in” to perform with members of the quartet. It was during those years, in this rich musical setting that the core group of musicians on this recording met each other, became lifelong friends and started performing with each other….” (Liner notes) The players include Jimmy Rivera (drums), Tony Batista (bass), Mark Monts de Oca (piano), Andre Avelino (guitar), Javier Oquendo (congas), Melvin Jones and Gordon Vernick (trumpets), Xavier Barreto (flute), Candido Reyes (guiro) and Reinel Lopez and Ivan Belvis (Brazilian and additional percussion). Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Miles Davis – Music From And Inspired by Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (Columbia/Legacy): Taken from “A Film By Stanley Nelson”. This is a wonderful summary and reflection on the development of jazz across the decades.” This release and commentary focuses on the impact and directions that Miles Davis developed to create a new direction for jazz. Commentary provided by George Wein, Carlos Santana, Gil Evans, and Wayne Shorter, among others enhance the deep impact Miles on jazz up to that time. Absolutely fantastic historically and informatively. “The journey takes us from his days as part of the legendary Charlie Parker quintet, through his Birth Of The Cool period, his orchestral work with Gil Evans, his cool jazz Kind Of Blue era in the ‘50s, his electric work in the ‘60s and ‘70s, all the way up to his monumental comeback with Tutu in 1986. There’s even a brand new song (“Hail To The Real Chief”) made up from leftover trumpet tracks, composed by Lenny White and performed by a star line-up including Marcus Miller and John Scofield.” (https://puregrainaudio.com/reviews/miles-davis-music-from-and-inspired-by-the-film-birth-of-the-cool-album-review) Essential! Click here to hear “Hail To The Real Chief”, the closer to this amazing documentary.
Adam Deitch Quartet – Egyptian Secrets (Golden Wolf): “With one foot in jazz and the other leg waist deep in the funky stuff, drummer/producer Adam Deitch (Lettuce/Break Science) finally unveils Egyptian Secrets (Golden Wolf Records), the long-awaited full-length debut LP from his Adam Deitch Quartet. A soul-jazz love affair swaggerin’ down the avenue, this sampledelic session explores the rare-groove DNA at the core of golden-era hip-hop beats as Deitch and company offer homage to the classic, bygone Blue Note era. Egyptian Secrets stacks slab-on-slab of cool-hand grooves, employing the celebrated drummer’s patented deep pocket, and welcomes legendary sensei and jazz guitar icon John Scofield to serenade the spaces fantastic. Adam Deitch was crystal clear that this album is a passion project dedicated to—and heavily influenced by—a lifelong hero of his, the late, great Idris Muhummad (formerly known as Leo Morris). Within these funky-ass rhythms, one can hear the undeniable vibrations of the New Orleans funk drummer extraordinaire.” (https://liveforlivemusic.com/features/adam-deitch-quartet-egyptian-secrets-lp-2019/) Deitch is accompanied by Will Blades (organ), Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), and Ryan Zoidis (sax) with guitarist John Scofield guesting on three songs. It’s mighty fine. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of all the songs on this release.
Richie Goods & The Goods Project – My Left Hand Man – A Tribute To Mulgrew Miller (Self-produced): This is bassist Richie Goods’ third release as a leader and this one honors Goods’ late mentor Mulgrew Miller. All of the songs are Miller originals given a new spin by Goods. Numerous players participated in this project, including LilJohn Roberts (drums), Shedrick Mitchell (piano, rhodes, organ on five songs), Mike King (piano on four songs), Tariqh Akoni (guitar on six songs), David Rosenthal (guitar on three songs), Gregoire Meret (harmonica one song), Chien Chien Lu (vibes), among others. “When I decided to put together the Goods Project, I knew I needed the right components to get that perfect balance. Each band member was carefully selected for not only their skill but also for their passion for the music.” (https://www.richiegoods.com/bio) Click here to listen to a song from this disc.
Theo Hill – Reality Check (Positone): “We really love the music of Theo Hill more and more with each new record – and here, the pianist is working in a quartet with Joel Ross on vibe – a player who makes a perfect partner for his music! Both Hill and Ross have this open sense of sound and timing – often using the spaces between the notes as much as the notes themselves – even when things are moving at a more full-on level, which they do often – thanks to contributions from Rashaan Carter on bass and Mark Whitfield on drums! Yet it’s the sonic interplay between the vibes and keys that really blow us away – maybe especially at the few points when Theo picks up Fender Rhodes, and balances out the record with even more warmth next to his acoustic tracks.” (https://www.isrbx.net/3137767355-theo-hill-reality-check-2020.html) This truly is a fresh sound as stated above. Click here to listen to “Mantra”, a song from this disc.
Andy James – Blue (le COQ): “Despite Caravan being Andy’s debut release, it’s a life’s work documented in the now. Andy emerged a fully formed artist and, on the strength of her talents, has been able to work with a diverse list of industry heavyweights, including mix and mastering engineer Josh Connolly (Justin Bieber, Santana, Pharell Williams); platinum mastering engineer Bernie Grundman (Carol King, Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, Prince); in-demand producer Piero Pata; noted vocal producer Zeffin Quinn Hollis ( Les Misérables, The Fantasticks, and Company); and big band jazz icon, Grammy Award-winner and Emmy-nominee Bill Cunliffe.” (https://www.isrbx.net/3137750615-andy-james-blue-2019.html) James isn’t the jazz singer one might expect from titles like “I’ve Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good”. She has modernized this chestnuts with more than a touch of today’s hip approaches. What a treat! The band includes Bill Cunliffe (piano), Alex Acuna (percussion), Marvin “Smitty” Smith (drums), Terell Stafford (trumpet), Michael Dease (trombone), Rick Margitza (trumpet) and Chris Colangelo (bass). Click here to catch a live take by James et. al. for this release (“The Look Of Love”)
Jerome Jennings – Solidarity (IOLA): “As its title implies, Solidarity is deeply concerned with the state of political and social justice in the United States on the cusp of the 2020s. It particularly focuses on the experiences of the most vulnerable people in our world society. Drummer-composer Jerome Jennings puts the spotlight on his writing chops for Solidarity, his rousing second album as a leader, set for a November 8 release on his own Iola Records. Featuring as its core unit trumpeter Josh Evans, tenor and soprano saxophonist Stacy Dillard, trombonist Andrae Murchison, pianist Zaccai Curtis, and Jennings’s friend and mentor, legendary bassist Christian McBride (along with special guests, including saxophonist-flutist Tia Fuller, tenor saxophonist-vocalist Camille Thurman, bassist Endea Owens, and percussionist Carlos Maldano), the album also features seven original compositions and four covers with fiercely inventive new arrangements. As its title implies, Solidarity is deeply concerned with the state of political and social justice in the United States on the cusp of the 2020s. It particularly focuses on the experiences of African American women, examining them through the prisms of the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements, among others. “Black women have traditionally been the conscience of the country,” Jennings explains. “Solidarity means…being present, not walking away. Being an ally, in a very overt way. ‘I got you. I hear you. I’m with you.’” Indeed, most of Jennings’s originals place him in solidarity with specific individuals. Heroic women from intersectional feminist philosopher Audre Lorde (“Theory of Difference”) to sharecropper and defiant self-advocate Recy Taylor (“Recy’s Lament”) to transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson (“Pay It No Mind”) are the subjects of his compositional tributes. On “Convo with Senator Flowers,” the drummer makes himself almost literally present; he provides solo accompaniment to the outspoken Arkansas State Senator’s viral speech against open-carry laws in her state.” (https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jeromejennings1) This is a powerful statement, thematically and sonic-ly. Click here to listen to segments of songs on this disc.
Knoxville Jazz Orchestra – The Road LessTraveled (Blue Canoe): “When trumpeter, arranger and composer Vance Thompson called the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s first rehearsal in August of 1999, he had no way of knowing the extent to which this experience would shape the next two decades of his life. Thompson had just returned home to East Tennessee after a four year stint in Chicago, and was anxious to find a way to continue writing for and playing in a pro-caliber big band. Bands of this type had been plentiful in Chicago, but there was no such outlet in Knoxville at the time…By the end of the group’s first rehearsal, it was clear that the band had potential. A weekly rehearsal schedule was established, and soon they were playing in public and attracting attention. Twenty years later, the band and the organization are going strong. This latest release, The Road Less Traveled, was recorded in celebration of the band’s twentieth anniversary and represents a culmination of everything the band has accomplished. The music, all arranged and/or orchestrated by Vance Thompson, spans the group’s entire history. (http://www.knoxjazz.org/bio) The current line-upon the orchestra includes Vance Thompson (director); Saxophones: Mark Tucker, David King (alto); Greg Tardy, William Boyd (tenor); Tom Johnson (bari sax); Trombones: Tom Lundberg, Don Hough, Chris MacTavish, Brad McDougall; Trumpets: Michael Wyatt, Stewart Cox, Michael Spirko, Vance Thompson; Rhythm section: Mark Boling (guitar), Bill Swann (piano), Tommy Sauter (bass), Keith Brown (drums) and Kelle Jolly vocals). The songs performed range from jazz compositions from Thelonius Monk, Mulgrew Miller, Dizzy Gillespie and Jimmy Rowles to new arrangements of pop styles including “What The World Needs Now”, “The Tennessee Waltz” and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” among others. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Jae Sinnett’s Zero To 60 Quartet – Just When You Thought… (Self-produced): “Zero to 60 is Jae Sinnett’s 14th album as a leader. It marks his return to straight up jazz featured in the classic jazz quartet setting…tenor saxophone, acoustic piano, acoustic bass, and drums. It also showcases the growth of the composer with nine original compositions by Jae and one classic standard, Never Let Me Go. The musicians joining Jae for this session are saxophonist Ralph Bowen, bassist Terry Burrell and pianist Allen Farnham. All are tremendously respected by their contemporaries. They are the perfect complement to Jae’s swinging, musically soulful, rhythmically hip-shifting drumming.” (http://www.jaesinnett.com/jae-sinnetts-zero-to-60-quartet/) A wonderful set throughout, especially for listeners who love quartets playing in the straight ahead vein. Melody and swing are the most prominent features of these songs. Click here to check out a live version of the title song.
Michael Wolff – Bounce (Sunnyside): “In the summer of 2015, a grueling and often bewildering four-year battle with a rare cancer had the acclaimed pianist-composer Michael Wolff on the ropes. His sons Nat and Alex, in the midst of their ascent as two of the most talented actors of their generation, had returned home to be with their father and try to comfort him…At one point, as Wolff was being cared for by his wife, the award-winning actress, director and writer Polly Draper, a doctor asked her if she’d signed a Do Not Resuscitate order. Through the haze of drugs and debilitating illness, Wolff interjected. Lifting his head up, he growled: “Resuscitate me!”…Now 66 and completely free of cancer (and cancer medications), Wolff has seen his personal and creative outlook transform in the profound way that occurs only in those who have been, as the pianist puts it, “to the brink and back.” “My view of life, art and music has changed, developed, matured, widened and focused simultaneously,” says Wolff, who continued to practice and compose diligently throughout his fight.” (https://www.michaelwolff.com/about/) After months of physical and mental rehabilitation, he was ready to approach music again with a new trio. This trio would be formed with New York natives, bassist Ben Allison and drummer Allan Mednard.Wolff and received terrific kudos. That release – Swirl – received tremendous praise and Bounce the follow-up. These two releases are the most dazzling and successful of his career. The trio is intact and son Nat Wolff sings on a composition of his own entitled “Cool Kids”. Allison contributed one song, “Milton” and the group also covers “You And The Night And The Music” and “Omar Sharif”. The remaining seven pieces were composed by Wolff. A wonderful story and terrific music. Click here to listen to the song “Chill” from this disc.