New Jazz Adds – 3/31/2020
Omer Avital / Qantar – New York Paradise (Jazz&People / Zamzama Records): “Qantar is more than just another group, it is for all intents and purposes a family and a community with its own customs, growing traditions, and even language (both musical and verbal). These five artists have formed a special friendship that projects a singular energy on the bandstand and on their recordings. Indeed, all are Israeli expatriates, all living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, all regularly hanging out at their leader’s home, sharing dinner, Turkish coffee, stories, ideas, joys and sorrows. This shared history, even though years apart, imbibes this quintet with the key to Avital’s music: the ability to bring the various rhythmic and harmonic vocabularies underpinning 20th and 21st century hardcore jazz expression to flow with a polyphonic attitude and musical multilingualism.” (https://omeravital.bandcamp.com/releases) The players are Asaf Yuria (tenor and soprano sax), Alexander Levin (tenor sax), Eden Ladin (piano), Omer Avital (bass) and Ofri Nehemya (drums). Avital composed all of the music on this set. Click here to listen to the opening song.
#Bloomerangs – Moments And Fragments (Instru Dash Mental): “Moments and Fragments is #Bloomerangs’ sophomore album. The music featured in the playlist are all original compositions by its members. The album features Stefan Lenthe (Bass), Clay Wulbrecht (Piano), Chris Parker (Drums), and Rodrigo Cotelo (Guitar).” (https://www.instrudashmental.com/bloomerangs) This is the quartet’s second release offering 13 original works. The set is a warm and somewhat avant collection that is unique and inviting. Melodica’s Luis Ravissa joins the group on “Mind Your F”. Click here to check out “In Some Shape or Form” from this release.
Benjamin Boone with the Ghana Jazz Collective – Joy (Origin): “Joy documents the inspired collaborations saxophonist/composer Benjamin Boone experienced while living in Ghana for a year as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. He performed frequently with Accra-based tenor saxophonist Bernard Ayisa, pianist Victor Dey, Jr., bassist Bright Osei, drummer Frank Kissi and vocalist Sandra Huson, with this set recorded in Boone’s final week in country. Bathed in joy, exuberance and dance, the band tackles four Boone originals, Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” “Curtain of Light” by Ethiopia-based saxophonist Jonovan Cooper, and the title track by the late saxophonist, Gerry Niewood.” (https://benjaminboone.bandcamp.com/album/joy) This blend of musicians is a beautiful and energetic sample of the positive energy of music. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Avishai Cohen – Big Vicious (ECM): “Charismatic trumpeter Avishai Cohen launched his exuberant, home-grown band Big Vicious six years ago, after relocating from the US to his native Israel, rounding up players to shape the music from the ground up, and co-authoring much of its newest material together with them. The group is an association of old friends. “We’re all coming from jazz, but some of us left it earlier”, Avishai says, summing up the stylistic reach of his cohorts. “Everyone’s bringing in their backgrounds, and that becomes part of the sound of the band.” Textures from electronica, ambient music and psychedelia are part of the blend, so too grooves and beats from rock, pop, trip-hop and more. A wide-open approach to cover versions – from Massive Attack to Beethoven – is also integral to the Vicious vision….” (https://www.challengerecords.com/products/15807172453841) I regret I am unable to find any samples of the songs on this disc.
Kurt Elling – Secrets Are The Best Stories (Edition Records): “Renowned for his singular combination of robust swing and poetic insight, GRAMMY winner Kurt Elling has secured his place among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. Declared “the standout male vocalist of our time” by The New York Times, Elling has garnered unprecedented accolades, including a fourteen-year run atop the DownBeat Critics Poll, a dozen GRAMMY nominations, and eight Jazz Journalists Association awards for “Male Singer of the Year.” Elling’s voice is instantly recognizable, embracing listeners with his warm, rich baritone and navigating the full span of his four-octave range as a virtuoso instrumentalist and a compelling storyteller. Whether transforming timeless standards or crafting his own enthralling originals, Elling balances elegant lyricism and technical mastery with wry humor, emotional depth, and keen observations into the human condition.“Elling combines authenticity with stunning originality,” is how The Wall Street Journal describes his talents, while The Guardian has called him “a kind of Sinatra with superpowers.” (https://kurtelling.com/about/) Secrets Are The Best Stories is set to be a career-defining album for Kurt, confirming his trajectory on a new and evolving path of artistic excellence, and further exploring the passion and the messages, political, personal, that inspire him. Here, Elling adds evocative new lyrics to compositions by greats like Pérez’s iconic collaborator Wayne Shorter, late fusion bass genius Jaco Pastorius, and visionary composer/arranger Vince Mendoza, and to pieces from Pérez’s own catalogue. Along with his own compelling narratives, Elling adapts the works of contemporary poets Franz Wright and Robert Bly, the 19th century abolitionist poet Frances E.W. Harper and Nobel-winning author Toni Morrison.” (https://kurtelling.com/secrets-are-the-best-stories/) Supporting musicians include Danilo Perez (piano, Fender Rhodes), Clark Summers (bass), Chico Pinheiro (guitar), Miguel Zenon (alto sax one song), Johnathan Blake (drums on two songs), Rogerio Boccato (percussion on four songs) and Roman Diaz (Percussion on one song). Click here to listen to a song from the release.
Andy Jaffe Nonet + 3 – chorinhoso (Playscape): “Playscape Recordings is proud to release Chorinhoso, the latest offering from veteran pianist/composer Andy Jaffe and his Nonet +3. Jaffe’s nonet features Wallace Roney on trumpet, John Clark on french horn, Jimmy Greene and Jonathan Ragonese on tenor and soprano saxophone, Freddie Bryant on guitar, Kris Allen on alto sax, Bruce Williamson on clarinets, Marty Jaffe and Avery Sharp on bass and Rogério Boccato on percussion. Vocalist Martina DaSilva is also featured on A Coisa Com Penas, Jaffe’s musical interpretation of Emily Dickinson’s poem, The Thing with Feathers. Chorinhoso is Jaffe’s third release on the Playscape Recordings label following the 2001 reissue of his Manhattan Projections and Arc in 2015. This latest recording documents Jaffe’s long-time love of Brazilian music inspired in part by his self-described “life-changing” encounter with the Mestre Hermeto Pascoal at Pascoal’s home in Rio. The CD’s third track, 12 For Tom, is Jaffe’s tribute to his late piano duo partner and close friend Tom McClung. Writes Jaffe in his liner notes, “Chorinhoso is a collection of compositions reflecting my long-standing involvement with, and love for, Brazilian music. Most of these compositions are related in some way to Choro, Samba, Bossa Nova, or Baião rhythms, with an occasional hint of Partido alto. Of course bringing the music to life in a convincing way depends on the musicians, and I’m once again blessed with the participation of some of the best on the scene today. As with any jazz ensemble, one writes with the strengths and sounds of the musicians in mind, and with this group there is a lot of inspiration on offer.” Andy Jaffe has been an active jazz composer, performer, recording artist and jazz educator for more than three decades and has appeared as a guest lecturer, artist and conductor in Germany, Slovakia, New Zealand, Malta, and France, among many other places around the globe. (https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/andyjaffe) Click here to preview the songs on this disc.
Wolfgang Muthspiel – Angular Blues (ECM): “The guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, born in 1965, lives in Vienna and is considered to be one of the most influential guitarists of his generation. After his classical training on the violin, he discovered his love for the guitar at the age of 15. His interest in his own as well as in improvised music finally led him to jazz. After his studies with Mick Goodrick at the New England Conservatory and later at Berklee College of Music in Boston, he toured for two years with the Gary Burton quintet….” (https://www.wolfgangmuthspiel.com/en/about/) Now some thirty-plus years later, Muthspiel is recognized as one of the top jazz guitarists in the world. Muthspiel is accompanied by Scott Colley (bass) and Brian Blade (drums). Music at the heart of the ECM trio style – great style and beauty. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Naughty Professor – Everyday Shredder (Self-produced): “Everyday Shredder” is about showcasing who we are and taking a variety of perspectives on our approach to songwriting, arrangement, and personal growth. We all work toward making this our goal every single day. We shred at our instruments, with our songwriting ideas, and with our perspective on how music weaves us together everyday. This mentality is what led us to calling it “Everyday Shredder.” We took a very hands-on approach with this project. Recording at Wild Child Studios, the studio owned and operated by our guitarist Bill Daniel, enabled us to allow time and perspective for things to develop. Bill also mixed and mastered it. We are dynamic personalities, often with varying desires, so having someone with an intimate knowledge of how we work helped to make this EP something that speaks so clearly for us.(https://www.thejamwich.com/2019/11/07/interview-album-review-talking-to-naughty-professor-about-new-ep-everyday-shredder-being-released-nov-8-and-their-release-shows-at-the-maple-leaf-in-new-orleans-nov-8-9/) Click here to check out “3 Wise Men” from this disc.
Tbone Paxton & The RJ Spangler Quartet – Back In Your Own Backyard (Detroit Music Factory): “Tbone’s discography spans dozens and dozens of recording projects, but his 2020 release on Detroit Music Factory, Back in Your Own Backyard, marks the first time he’s the featured artist on a full-length CD….The tracks on Back in Your Own Backyard are a selection of pre-WWII jazz and transitional rhythm and blues tunes. They’re not the most famous tunes, but they’re some of the most moving. This isn’t Gershwin or Cole Porter; these are tunes from the dark corners of “The Great American Songbook,” or as Tbone likes to call them, “the non-standard standards.” (https://www.detroitmusicfactory.com/artists/tbone-paxton-the-rj-spangler-quartet) In addition to Tbone’s vocals and trombone, the players include Michael Zaporski (piano), Matt LoRosso (guitar), Kurt Krahnke and Jeff Cuny (bass), RJ Spangler and Jake Matthews (drums, percussion), James O’Donnell (trumpet), Jim Holden (tenor and alto sax), Goode Wyche III (bari and alto sax), and Chris Tabaczynski (clarinet, soprano and tenor sax). The songs include “Back In Your Own Backyard” (Al Jolson, Billy Rose,Dave Dreyer) “New Orleans” (Hoagy Carmichael) and “Smile” (Charlie Chaplin, John Turner, Geoffrey Parsons) and some more recent songs like “Room With A View” (Lowell Fulson and Billy Vera). I regret I am unable to find a sample from this release.
Shabaka (Hutchings) & The Ancestors – We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse): “We Are Sent Here by History is the sophomore outing from London’s Shabaka Hutchings & the Ancestors, who are all South African musicians. It is also their debut on Impulse…. Cut in Johannesburg and Capetown, his sextet — Mthunzi Mvubu (alto sax), Siyabonga Mthembu (vocals), Ariel Zamonsky (double bass), Gontse Makhene (percussion), and Tumi Mogorosi (drums) — haven’t worked together since the stellar Wisdom of the Elders in 2016, but individually and collectively they’ve grown immensely while sticking stubbornly to an aesthetic that melds the new thing jazz to Afro-Latin and South African township jazz brought to England and the Americas by Hugh Masekela, Chris MacGregor, Dudu Pukwana, Louis Moholo, and Johnny Dyani.” (All Music Review by Thom Jurek) This presentation is a stirring blend of jazz, spirituality, history and politics. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Justin Varnes – Survival Instinct: The EVILution Of The Pack (No Genetically Modified Music): “The title undoubtedly piqued your curiosity and there is no misspelling. Instead drummer and leader Justin Varnes is bringing awareness to one of the root causes of violence; our need to belong to a pack coupled with our need to blindly protect that pack. Thousand or millions of people who think they belong to the same pack can often lead to unspeakable violence in the name of protecting that pack. The album also offers an actionable solution (beyond awareness) to help bridge the divide between packs: actively support people who don’t look like you, think like you, or act like you. Help people not see themselves belonging to a different pack than you. Each song represents an optimistic view of the future based on these two concepts.” (https://www.makingascene.org/justin-varnes-survival-instinct-the-evilution-of-the-pack/) Varnes is accompanied by Mark Rapp (trumpet), Luke Washington (alto sax), John Sandfort (tenor sax), Nick Rosen (piano) and Kevin Smith (bass). Great music and a hopeful message for these times. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Kenny Warren – In The Heat (Whirlwind): “Brooklyn based trumpeter Kenny Warren’s wide-ranging, adventurous musicality has led him on diverse explorations across the musical landscape, from jazz to Americana and from folk to free. His new record In The Heat features a suite of compositions that he wrote for bassist Matthias Pichler (Wolfgang Muthspiel, Lorenz Raab) and drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell (Olli Hirvonen, Yuhan Su). This trumpet-led version of the classic trio format was chosen to maximize the potential for freedom for these accomplished and unclassifiable improvisers…. The Heat is the sound of an artist bringing together the many strands of his creative personality, using the flexibility of the trio format to write without boundaries, and trusting to the perfect understanding between his collaborators to improvise without fear. Like a good hang with old friends, these three strike a balance between pouring their hearts out and just kicking back and having a good time.” (https://kenny-warren.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-heat) Click here to listen to two songs from this disc.