New Jazz Adds – 4/27/2021
Rahsaan Barber – Mosaic (Jazz Music City): “This album represents a return to jazz, having gained quite a bit of knowledge about both the saxophone and composition that I’m eager to share.”…One of the bright spots of the pandemic has been the extra time many have found to cultivate interests such as painting, baking, writing, learning a new instrument. For musicians, it’s been hard to be separated from fellow musicians, but it has brought plenty of time for practice and composition. For Assistant Professor Rahsaan Barber, the pandemic gave him the time he needed to write and record his latest album, MOSAIC. After stepping away from jazz to pursue a classical DMA in saxophone performance at the University of Memphis in August 2019, MOSAIC represents a return to the genre for Barber. He credits this time of classical study with new knowledge about the saxophone and composition – and he’s eager to share both. Barber sought to document and share the work that he’s done over the last decade, in particular with his twin brother, trombonist Roland Barber. He also found himself composing for the “voice” of his friend and fellow member of the Sugartone Brass Band, trumpeter Nathan Warner. “In the weeks leading up to the recording session, I realized I had written 15 original compositions with their ‘voices’ in mind,” Barber reflected, “and the result, fleshed out by my long-standing trio, is MOSAIC, a double-disc album scheduled for April release.” (https://music.unc.edu/2021/02/02/mosaic-adventures-in-jazz/) Click here to listen to “Down In My Soul” from this release.
Eric Goletz – Into The Night (Consolidated Artists Publications): “”I hate the word fusion because it makes everyone think of unlistenable types of jazz. In my mind, the word means the blending of different kinds of elements into a particular kind of sound.” (Eric Goletz) On his new CD, Into the Night, releasing April 2nd on CAP Records, trombonist and composer Eric Goletz offers a program that mixes funk, rock, and jazz sounds into a unique sonic blend. By featuring his own trombone over a full rhythm section with keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and percussion, Goletz’ music has no artistic parallel in the current jazz scene. While the compositions are intricate, the approach is highly accessible for music lovers of all kinds. Says Goletz, “Growing up, I was highly influenced by funk and rock, and by the time I moved to New York, funk was very popular. As a composer, I wanted to mix the music I heard on the radio with the spirit of jazz. I also wanted to feature the trombone as the lead instrument in a fusion setting because there wasn’t a lot of that out there.” Goletz put together a group in 1987-1988 to explore these sounds, but it took him a few years to fully realize the sound he heard in his head…. As a composer, Goletz wanted his pieces to appear in their fully developed state. He would rather have his audience appreciate the exposition and development of the themes in the album’s title track, than worry about a radio-prohibitive track time of 13 minutes. On two tracks, he has added five horns to the band to create a powerful big band sound. Even when approaching established standards like John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.” or Cole Porter’s “What is This Thing Called Love,” Goletz finds inventive ways to make the music fit the personality of his band. These incredibly flexible musicians can create perfect grooves in a wide variety of genres, and then can switch those styles on the turn of a dime.” (https://news.allaboutjazz.com/into-the-night-from-trombonist-composer-eric-goletz-brings-a-30-year-dream-to-life) Six of the nine pieces are originals. Be prepared to tap your toes and shake yourself on down! Click here to listen to a teaser of the title song.
Charles Langford – Powerless (Blue Canoe): “Charles Langford has been writing music since his teenage years. This Springfield, Massachusetts jazz man does it all…tenor, alto, soprano sax, clarinet and flute. Mr. Langford came to the Northeast United States after attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the New School for Social Research in New York City. He studied composition and teaching with Billy Harper, Donald Byrd, and Barry Harris, among others. Prior to that, Mr. Langford studied with Archie Shepp and Yusef Latef. Since then, Charles Langford has become one of the Boston area’s top A-list players. He’s played with artists ranging from The Toni Lynn Washington Blues Band to The Temptations and Mighty Sam McClain. He’s paid his dues and put in years with Melvin Sparks, Norman Connors, Solomon Burke, and Steve Turre…. With “Powerless”, Charles and his talented group take the listener on a smooth musical journey by way of deep grooves, soulful horns, and passionate textures that blend seamlessly with their superior musicianship and production.” (https://www.bluecanoerecords.com/charles-langford.html) Click here and scroll down to listen to songs from this release.
Mark Lewis Quartet – Naked Animals (Audio Daddio): “Alto saxophonist/flutist Mark Lewis revisits a chapter from his own musical history on “Naked Animals,” set for an April 2 release on the Audio Daddio label. Recorded in 1990, the album features eight original compositions performed by Lewis’s Dutch quartet, the working unit he maintained through most of his 14-year residency in Rotterdam: pianist Willem Kühne, bassist James Long, and drummer Frans van Grinsven. A native of Washington State, Lewis was all of 20 years old when he settled in the Netherlands in 1978. Shortly thereafter he formed the quartet to focus on his original compositions; with the above lineup locked in by the early 1980s, the band gradually built a popular following across Holland. “These musicians were and are a high point in my endeavors,” says Lewis today. “My one regret with this band is that we didn’t record more.” Indeed, Lewis only recorded the Dutch quartet twice, with “Naked Animals” coming near the band’s final days….Yet despite its being more than 30 years old, “Naked Animals” is no historical curio. It is a vital, hard-swinging piece of music that sounds as fresh and exciting as if it was recorded yesterday. The rhythmic tensions of “Mercurian Rendezvous,” “Naked Animals,” and “City Slicker” are remarkably contemporary post-bop, whereas the refined ballad “A Dance with Monique” and the blues-redolent “The Seven Angels” draw on the classic, foundational elements of the art form. Hipness, Lewis and the band suggest, knows neither geographical nor temporal boundaries.”Naked Animals” is also timely in a more roundabout, coincidental sense. It was recorded thirty years, almost to the day, before Lewis’s last pre-pandemic performance. Combined with the ageless character of the music, it serves as a stark link not only to past triumphs but to future possibilities for—as van Grinsven succinctly puts it in the album’s notes—”Adventurous, surprising and creative art!” (article_13adcbc3-021a-5d6c-8b9a-69d9942af45e.html) https://www.wfmz.com/news/pr_newswire/pr_newswire_entertainment/saxophonist-flutist-mark-lewis-re-ups-a-formidable-project-from-a-previous-era-on-naked/article_13adcbc3-021a-5d6c-8b9a-69d9942af45e.html) Click here for an introduction to the music on this disc.
Adam Moezinia – Folk Element Trio (Outside In Music): “Guitarist Adam Moezinia and his trio are rooted in the jazz tradition but venture beyond to incorporate influences of folk and world music into their sound. Hear how they explore the relationship between jazz music of the past century and the timeless folk traditions of West Africa, the Carribean, Appalachia and beyond.” (https://www.outsideinmusic.com/artistsandreleases/folk-element-trio) Wonderful styles! Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
Mauricio Morales – Luna (Outside In Music): “In offering up their debut albums, many jazz musicians tend to embark on a safe, easy road, rarely breaking the standard norms and adhering cautiously to a straight-ahead, standards-packed pathway. Others may opt to travel down a brash and outlandish highway of tricky twists and turns, with topsy-turvy gestures that serve merely to elicit flash and dazzle. But then there are the forward-looking artists who feel free to passionately express themselves in a new way that’s all about integrity and originality.
This makes the perfect introduction to the talented newcomer Mauricio Morales, the Mexico City-born, Los Angeles-based bassist/composer/arranger who delivers his compelling first outing, Luna, on Outside in Music. What makes the album so distinctive is his thematic approach in an unorthodox setting, enlisting a string quartet to color and texture the seven reflective and cinematic originals. “Luna is a tribute to childhood,” Morales says. “Every song depicts a different layer of my own growth. Conceptually I am attempting to tell a story through my music. Each piece represents a chapter in the journey that Luna is meant to be.” Many of the songs spring from natural elements, ranging in inspiration from the beauty of the moon to the ravages of an earthquake. They are journey-like episodes with pockets of tension juxtaposed with joy. The overarching takeaway is that Luna, he says, “represents the pursuit of a childlike peace of mind and excitement about life.” Picking up the bass when he was 14, Morales played pop and heavy rock in Mexico City, but was also inspired by all kinds of music, including sounds coming from video games, film and TV. “I was a sponge,” he says, “for any kind of art that had an impact on me.” As he went deeper into learning how to play his instrument, he realized he would be heading into a different musical direction. “I came to understand over the course of time how cathartic and liberating it was to recognize the freedom that improvised music represented,” he says. “That was the moment of realization for me, and I knew I wanted to play jazz…. Luna soars musically into another sphere of delightful sonics while also giving Morales free reign to tell his story in a musically poetic manner, with impressive arrangements and a band that supports his vision. It’s an auspicious beginning to a top-tier career.” (http://dlmediamusic.com/press-releases/mauricio-morales-luna-available-february-26-2021/) The musicians shift with each song centered by Morales’ bass and Aga Derlak’s piano as each new song shifts players. The results are dazzling! Click here to listen to samples of all of the songs on this fascinating set. https://www.outsideinmusic.com/artistsandreleases/mauricio-morales-luna
Richard Nelson – No More Blues (modalcitizenrecords.com): “If you’ve heard any pedal steel guitar swells on any Irish country tracks over the past 30 years, chances are it was Richard Nelson’s skilfully crafted lines that permeated the somewhat generic sound of that particular genre. Richard is the guy that everyone has heard but no one has heard of (outside of the top-tier level of Irish musicians). His credits include Van Morrison and Paul Brady, but his discography is even more impressive. When asked how many albums he has played on, he smirked ‘I gave up counting after it got past 1,200.’ A typical answer from a modest, yet quietly confident Ulsterman with an exceptionally droll sense of humour. It is on this album, his 3rd foray into jazz that Nelson’s jazz credentials are codified. The dexterity with which he tackles ‘Giant Steps’ is truly remarkable. This tune with its frantic tempo and alternating modulations is not to be attempted (if you have any respect for Coltrane) until one has truly spent a considerable amount of time studying jazz, but Nelson’s version showcases his impeccable timing, tuning and acuity. Kenny Burrell’s ‘Midnight Blue’ sounds as smooth and slick as Rudy Van Gelder’s original recording. The title track, Jobim’s classic Chega De Saudade (No More Blues), highlights the musicians’ seamless transition to a classic bossa nova groove. Charlie Parker’s ‘Donna Lee’ is given its due respect and Bob Berg’s ‘Friday Night at the Cadillac Club’ bounces along with a consistency that Whiplash’s Fletcher would find to be “…quite my tempo”. Featuring an all-star cast of top Irish and international session musicians from Scotland to the US, and recorded, mixed and mastered by the legendary Philip ‘The Beg’ Begley (Riverdance, Planxty, Christy Moore), Nelson has delivered a stunning sounding album. Crisp yet gritty and the selection of tunes demonstrates just how far he has brought a ‘country’ instrument into the jazz mainstream. Pedal Steel Guitar is here to stay as a jazz instrument and on this island, it is due to the Herculean efforts of Richard Nelson’s patience, practice, persistence, precision and vision.” (https://www.modalcitizenrecords.com/439775637) Click here to check out Nelson’s take on Mr. Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”.
Richard Nelson – No More Blues (Self-produced): “If you’ve heard any pedal steel guitar swells on any Irish country tracks over the past 30 years, chances are it was Richard Nelson’s skilfully crafted lines that permeated the somewhat generic sound of that particular genre. Richard is the guy that everyone has heard but no one has heard of (outside of the top-tier level of Irish musicians). His credits include Van Morrison and Paul Brady, but his discography is even more impressive. When asked how many albums he has played on, he smirked ‘I gave up counting after it got past 1,200.’ A typical answer from a modest, yet quietly confident Ulsterman with an exceptionally droll sense of humour. It is on this album, his 3rd foray into jazz that Nelson’s jazz credentials are codified. The dexterity with which he tackles ‘Giant Steps’ is truly remarkable. This tune with its frantic tempo and alternating modulations is not to be attempted (if you have any respect for Coltrane) until one has truly spent a considerable amount of time studying jazz, but Nelson’s version showcases his impeccable timing, tuning and acuity. Kenny Burrell’s ‘Midnight Blue’ sounds as smooth and slick as Rudy Van Gelder’s original recording. The title track, Jobim’s classic Chega De Saudade (No More Blues), highlights the musicians’ seamless transition to a classic bossa nova groove. Charlie Parker’s ‘Donna Lee’ is given its due respect and Bob Berg’s ‘Friday Night at the Cadillac Club’ bounces along with a consistency that Whiplash’s Fletcher would find to be “…quite my tempo”. Featuring an all-star cast of top Irish and international session musicians from Scotland to the US, and recorded, mixed and mastered by the legendary Philip ‘The Beg’ Begley (Riverdance, Planxty, Christy Moore), Nelson has delivered a stunning sounding album. Crisp yet gritty and the selection of tunes demonstrates just how far he has brought a ‘country’ instrument into the jazz mainstream. Pedal Steel Guitar is here to stay as a jazz instrument and on this island, it is due to the Herculean efforts of Richard Nelson’s patience, practice, persistence, precision and vision.” (https://www.modalcitizenrecords.com/439775637) Click here to listen to a song from this release.
Charlie Porter – Hindsight (OA2): “Not a stranger to the idea of infusing one’s art with examinations of societal conditions, Grammy-winning trumpeter Charlie Porter follows 2019’s ‘Immigration Nation’ with thoughts of how we act in hindsight to deal with the collateral damage of ‘progress’ and the centuries-old struggles with racism, inequality and corruption. Born during the upheavals of 2020, ‘Hindsight’ reflects the tumult, uncertainty, and fiery emotions of the times, yet with the recent birth of his son and thoughts of how we’re going to leave the planet for the next generation, his ‘For Ellis’ closes the album with a gospel choir and a hymn of hope. Joining Porter on the wide-ranging set of originals are saxophonist Nick Biello, pianist Orrin Evans, guitarist Mike Moreno, bassists David Wong & Damian Erskine, Behn Gillece on vibes, drummer Kenneth Salters, along with several guest performers. “…one of the most brilliant and imaginative contemporary composers of mainstream jazz…stimulating and emotive original music with a rare blend of sophistication and organic spontaneity.” (Chicago Jazz Magazine) The set also includes guests Jimmie Herrod (vocals), Rasheed Jamal (rap), Majid Khaliq (violin), Bassekou Kouyate (ngoni) and Mahamadou Tounkara (tama). Porter’s playing is fluid, expressive, and magnificent. ‘ (DOWNBEAT) Click here to check out the performances on this terrific release.
John Stowell / Dan Dean – Rain Painting (Origin): “Master guitarist and improvisor, John Stowell, has spent the last five decades touring the world, most often immersed in the universal jazz repertoire improvising with artists from wherever he’s visiting. Through his recordings with “Scenes,” and his quartet with SF Bay Area saxophonist Michael Zilber over the last 20 years, Stowell has had the chance to perform and focus on his own compositions more than ever before. It was through the mastering of those recordings that engineer, bassist, vocalist, producer Dan Dean discovered the nuances of Stowell’s writing. The idea of collaboration came when Stowell heard Dean’s recent classical voice recording, “Songs Without Words,” where he layered multiple tracks of himself in what writer Raul da Gama called “…music-making of the highest order, which plumbs the depths of all of the emotions from wonderful joys to abject lamentations.” Taking 10 of Stowell’s compositions, Dean & Stowell layered voices, bass, and guitars over the course of a year, discovering unique avenues into the music with the end result feeling spontaneous, joyous and in the moment. “Dan Dean will redefine what you think is possible to achieve with the human voice. Prepare to be astonished.” (Melinda Bargreen, Author & Music Critic) A uniquely engaging performance. Click here to listen to samples of two of the performances on this release.
Jennifer Wharton’s Bonegasm – Not A Novelty (Sunnyside): “Bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton might be considered by many as a unicorn in the world of music. In decades from the not-too-distant past, it was a rarity to even have a woman in prominent jazz bands and orchestras, but to have a bass trombone-slinging woman as leader was thought extraordinary. In efforts to highlight her perceived position as a rara avis, Wharton took it upon herself to not only raise the profile of women instrumentalists but also that of her chosen horn (and its smaller cousins). In 2019, Wharton presented her trombone-powered ensemble, Bonegasm, via its self-titled debut album (Sunnyside SSC-1529). Wharton enlisted fellow trombonists John Fedchock, Nate Mayland and Alan Ferber, along with the rhythm section of pianist Michael Eckroth, bassist Evan Gregor and drummer Don Peretz. The music performed included originals and arrangements the leader commissioned from prominent composers she knew as well as members of the ensemble. The overwhelming response to Bonegasm’s music was astounding, cementing Wharton’s assertion that this assemblage was no flash in the pan but an important exponent of shaping the trombone’s primacy in jazz music. Bonegasm’s new recording, Not a Novelty, wears its intentions on its sleeve, or perhaps more appropriately, tattooed on its arm. Wharton has spent a good deal of time developing her jazz chops in the period since the initial release. Trying to break the tradition of the bass trombone’s relegation to supportive roles in most ensembles, Wharton began a solid study of jazz and improvisation. She also demanded that the pieces commissioned for Bonegasm feature the bigger horn in some fashion; she was impressed by what composers and arrangers could do when they used their imaginations…. The compositions for this project were commissioned from a variety of sources; all composers Wharton had worked with and felt a mutual level of musical simpatico that would befit her ensemble.” (https://jenniferwharton.bandcamp.com/album/not-a-novelty) The players are: John Fedchock, Nate Mayland, Alan Ferber (trombones); Jennifer Wharton (bass trombone); Michael Eckroth (piano, Fender Rhodes); Evan Gregor (bass) and Don Peretz (drums) with guests Samuel Torres (percussion) and Kurt Elling (voice on the final song). Click here to listen to a song from this release.
Lauren White & The Quinn Johnson Trio – Ever Since The World Ended (Cafe Pacific): “There is an interesting take of “Ever Since the World Ended” on You Tube. It is an evocative video, a kind of visual essay on Mose Allison’s blues which could serve as an anthem to the pandemic and accompanying mess we are in. Lauren White (accompanied by Dolores Scozzesi) is appropriately downbeat, and well complemented by the Quinn Johnson Trio. One could enjoy a stiff drink while reflecting on the last year and listening. And, mostly, that is the mood of the recording. Bittersweet, mellow, regretful.” (https://www.allaboutjazz.com/ever-since-the-world-ended-lauren-white-cafe-pacific-records__15685) That’s a perfect description as far as I can see. Click here to listen for your self.
Dan Wilson – Vessels Of Wood And Earth (Mack Avenue): “On Vessels of Wood and Earth, guitarist/composer Dan Wilson’s debut album for legendary bassist/ composer Christian McBride’s Brother Mister label (and the imprint’s second release), the young player casts a groove so strong that even when soloing he propels the music irresistibly forward. Dan burst into the national spotlight when Joey DeFrancesco, one of the all-time greatest jazz organists, invited him to a coveted spot in his trio. Dan went on to tour with McBride’s trio, Tip City, and on Vessels of Wood and Earth…” (https://www.challengerecords.com/products/16158088223874) In today’s society, perception over reality influences everyday life. Grand offerings of seemingly luxurious lifestyles flood social channels, offering a glimpse of false security and achievement that rarely lie on a strong foundation. Just as a beautiful house is finished with vessels of silver and gold, underneath lies wood and earth. “On his marvelous new album, Vessels of Wood and Earth, guitarist/composer Dan Wilson takes the title to mean that we as a society tend to look at the shiny exteriors that attract us in an instant, rather than appreciate the less readily apparent structures that actually support the house. Through 11 joyfully dynamic compositions ranging from takes on classic songs from Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Ted Daffan mixed with a nod to the spiritual master John Coltrane as well as five original compositions, Wilson builds a foundation rooted as much in tradition as it is in moving the music irresistibly forward into the modern world…. Joined by pianist Christian Sands, bassist Marco Panascia, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and guest vocalist Joy Brown, the virtuosic guitarist’s broad musical roots inspired by Motown, gospel and jazz tradition result in a remarkable feel for arrangements. Wilson’s musical explorations allow the band to elevate each passage, aided by his fluid and melodic expression.” (http://dlmediamusic.com/christian-sands/dan-wilson-vessels-of-wood-and-earth-april-23-via-brother-mister-productions-mack-avenue-music-group/)
Fantastic performances throughout this release! Click here to listen to the songs on this set!