New Jazz Adds – 5/4/2021
Andra Day – United States vs Billie Holiday (Warner Bros): “Cassandra Monique Batie (born December 30, 1984), known professionally as Andra Day, is an American singer, songwriter, and actor. In 2015, she released her debut album, Cheers to the Fall. At the 2016 Grammy Awards, the album was nominated for Best R&B Album and the single, “Rise Up”, was nominated for Best R&B Performance. To promote “Rise Up”, she performed the song on The View, the performance earned her a Daytime Emmy Award nomination. Day also appeared alongside Stevie Wonder, who is partially credited for her discovery, in an ad for Apple TV in late 2015. In 2021, she portrayed Billie Holiday in the biopic The United States vs. Billie Holiday, for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Her stage name was inspired by Holiday, whose nickname was “Lady Day”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andra_Day) Her style is absolutely a match with Holiday’s! Click here and scroll down to listen to the songs on this release.
John DePaola Quartet – Take Two (Warner Bros): “”Take Two” is a soulful collection of Jazz Standards , Popular Songs from the 60’s, and Original Compositions featuring the John DePaola Quartet with Jeff Phillips on Piano and Organ, Paul Parker on Drums and Percussion, and Charlie Silva on Upright and Electric Bass.” (https://www.johndepaolamusic.com/take-two-) DePaola offers two compositions of his own and the rest of the set covers a range from Nat Adderley’s “Work Song” and Bacharach’s “Wives And Lovers” to McCartney and Lennon’s “Can’t Buy Me Love” to a Russian folk song “Dark Eyes”. The music is mainstream and inviting. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Vincent Herring – Preaching To The Choir (Smoke Sessions): “Vincent Herring battles back from a bout with Covid-19 and career-threatening side effects with a defiant and joyful album, Preaching to the Choir, with swinging help from Cyrus Chestnut, Yasushi Nakamura and Johnathan Blake. Preaching to the Choir, a paean to Herring’s fans and supporters, celebrates real triumph over hardship and challenge with soulful jazz. Herring is speaking for nearly all of us when says, “2020 into 2021 was a morbid nightmare.” But, he also experienced the pandemic firsthand, contracting Covid-19 while suffering the same loss of performance opportunities befalling every musician during the past year. That’s only meant more time spent at home, watching the turbulent presidential election and its violent aftermath. Despite the prevailing darkness, Preaching to the Choir delivers a sermon of optimism and hope to the jazz faithful, aided by as fervent a congregation as a swing disciple could pray for: pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Johnathan Blake. “We have to have hope for the future,” Herring insists. “I’ve been in a constant state of disbelief with so much going on that is negative in the world, but I try to look at the positive side of everything. Fate is written with all kinds of twists and turns, and in the end the only thing you can do is realize that as bad as things are – and they are bad –the promise of tomorrow is going to be special.” (https://smokesessionsrecords.com/shop/albums/preaching-to-the-choir/) This is a terrific release that covers Herring’s terrific originals and standards like “In A Sentimental Mood” and “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”. Click here to listen to segments of the songs on this release.
Jihye Lee Orchestra – Daring Mind (Motema): “Daring Mind is a documentation of my first four years in New York. Composing has been my best friend. We danced, cried, laughed, and suffered together. Music heals me by helping to release my emotions. I hope this album can take on you a similar journey as we are all human beings sharing the ups and downs of life.” (https://jihyeleeorchestra.bandcamp.com/) Lee decided to broaden the scope of these performances with a large ensemble, including Ben Kono and Rob Wilkerson (Alto Sax),
Quinsin Nachoff and Jeremy Powell (Tenor Sax), Brian Pareschi, Sean Jones, John Lake, and Alex Norris (Trumpet), Mike Fahie, Alan Ferber, Nick Grinder, Mark Patterson and Jennifer Wharton (Trombone); Adam Birnbaum and Hauen Joo (alternating on piano), Sebastian Noelle (Electric Guitar), Evan Gregor (Double Bass) and Mark Ferber (Drums). This set is a dazzling musical expression. Click here to listen to the songs on this amazing work.
Dan Moretti – Tres Libre (Roots Grooves): “Saxophonist Dan Moretti has performed throughout the United States, Europe, The Middle East, Africa, The Pacific Rim, and Russia. His musical influences and compositions range from straight-jazz and soul-jazz to funk, Latin-jazz, and classical music. Over the last 30 years, he has played with a variety of artists across the musical spectrum. A shortlist includes Nile Rodgers, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cornell Dupree, Jerry Jemmott, The Temptations, Mike Stern, Omar Hakim, Jimmy Cobb, Dave Samuels, Dave Liebman, Marvin Stamm, Nat Adderly, The Crusaders, and Dr. John….Dan’s early recording career, which started in the late ’80s, placed him in the funk-fusion world with his 1st international release on the Black Hawk label Sometime Inside. Then teaming up with notables like Dave Samuels (vibes), Mike Stern, and Steve Kahn (guitar), Pugie Bell (drums), and Mark Egan (bass), he continued with Point of Entry and Waiting for the Call on Par Records. Moving into the Latin-Jazz world in the ’90s and 2000’s he has recordings with GRAMMY-winning artists Oscar Stagnaro (bass) and Mark Walker (drums), including legendary NEA Jazz Master saxophonist Dave Liebman on Latin Genesis….Now, twenty recordings later, Moretti releases Tres Libre, a fresh, diverse slice of Dan’s evolving musical self. This project was conceived to point to the Idea that the trio has a feel unto itself and remains a solid launching pad for creative music. In this setting, the tracks offer a wide variety of approaches within that concept. The ten musicians contributing to these seven performances provide an aesthetic that can open our ears to experience a musical journey within each one of these very different tracks. The styles range from free-latin-jazz, funk, ambient, and modal to swing….” (http://home.nestor.minsk.by/jazz/news/2021/03/2301.html) Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
Ulysses Owens, Jr. Big Band – Soul Conversations (Outside In Music): “Outside in Music is thrilled to announce the May 7th, 2021 release of Soul Conversations, the fiery tour-de-force from jazz luminary Ulysses Owens Jr. Soul Conversations marks the renowned drummer’s recording debut with his exciting new 19-piece outfit, the UOJ Big Band, as well as the artist’s first release on Outside in Music. With his unimpeachable drum mastery Owens Jr. is heralded for augmenting the ensembles of such eminent figures as Christian McBride, Wynton Marsalis and Kurt Elling. Owens Jr. has also proven his excellence at steering and magnifying his own ensembles, including his New Century Jazz Quintet. With Soul Conversations, he demonstrates a fresh and ebullient approach in large ensemble jazz. Alongside Owens Jr., Soul Conversations features trumpeters Walter Cano, Benny Benack III, Summer Camargo and Giveton Gelin; trombonists Eric Miller, Gina Benalcazar, Wyatt Forhan, Chris Glassman, Seth Weaver and Michael Dease who also serves as the album’s associate producer; alto players Alexa Tarantino and Erena Terakubo, tenor players Diego Rivera and Daniel Dickinson; and baritone player Andy Gatauskas as well as pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, vocalist Charles Turner III and special guest vibraphonist Stefon Harris.” (https://lydialiebman.com/index.php/2021/02/23/new-release-ulysses-owens-jr-s-big-band-debut-soul-conversations-due-out-may-7-2021-via-outside-in-music/) This set is as finely performed as a big band can, at once as smooth as the finest silk and offering enough sass to knock you out! Click here to listen to the title song, “Soul Conversations”.
Quick Quartet – Low Rent Space (Self-produced): This disc appears to be the Quartet’s third release and like many others they have suffered from the loss of live performances. The band members are Jason Quick (guitar), Zac Kreuz (drums) and J. Ronquillo (bass) with Ben Wolkins adding trumpet on six songs and Ben Maloney on keys on three. Quick composed all of the songs. There is a nice variety on the set and with a decided hipness. Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
Anais Reno – Lonesome Thing Sings Ellington & Strayhorn (Harbinger): “The first time someone told me that Billy Strayhorn was a teenager when he wrote “Lush Life,” I didn’t believe it. Not so much because of the harmonic gymnastics, which were daunting enough, but because of the lyrics. “Romance is mush stifling those who strive, I’ll live out a lush life in some small dive.” No, someone had to have lived quite a bit to write something like that. No-one at eighteen could know that, so I thought, because I certainly didn’t. So, perhaps it is not surprising that a similar reaction should accompany listening to Anaïs Reno’s rendition of “Lush Life.” She’s how old? No, no-one at sixteen could do Strayhorn convincingly. Some singers at sixty couldn’t do it. Hadn’t the song defeated Frank Sinatra? They may have lived long enough, but they hadn’t been around enough. Isaac Stern put it that way about technical prodigies on violin; yes, they could certainly play, but they lacked the emotional depth needed to play expressively. They hadn’t suffered enough, he said. Anaïs Reno may break the rules, but listening to her do Strayhorn and Ellington is nothing, if not a blast. It is true, she has her weaknesses. Someone could tutor her in scat, which is not her forte. Her diction and enunciation are so clear and compelling that, at first hearing, they can be mistaken for a certain stiffness. But be advised, please, Anaïs can swing. She may not yet be Ella Fitzgerald when she does “Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues,” but it would be nice to hear what she does with it in fifteen years time. What a voice Ms Reno possesses. Absolutely arresting, and “Mood Indigo” and “Daydream” are outstanding vehicles with which to display it. The entire recording leaves one in stunned disbelief. Emmet Cohen is a most congenial accompanist, as is Juliet Kurtzman, Anais’ mother, whose violin solos are reminiscent of a certain Johnny Frigo. What an extraordinary debut recording for Ms Reno.” (https://www.allaboutjazz.com/lovesome-thing-anais-reno-harbinger-records) This is an amazing performance throughout! I regret I am unable to find a sample from this set to share.
Charlie Sepulveda & The Turnaround – This Is Latin Jazz (HighNote): “Born in the Bronx, Sepúlveda appeared regularly in the Big Apple throughout the 70s and 80s with his cousin – a Latin Jazz pianist of some notoriety named Eddie Palmieri – and the likes of Mongo Santamaria, Dave Valentin, Tito Puente, and countless others. Charlie Sepúlveda is currently a Professor at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of music and leads one of the island’s most popular jazz ensembles, The Turnaround. The band is a collection of celebrity jazz chefs who mix together a tasty dish of Latin Jazz, hard bop, and Afro-American rhythms. “Today, what is called ‘Latin Jazz’ is different in so many ways. Earlier it was oriented towards Afro-Cuban styles,” Charlie said in an interview, “I play the traditional form of Latin jazz mixed with hard bop and always with Puerto Rican styles like Bomba, Plena, and Danza.” So it was only natural that Sepúlveda named this live recording from NYC’s jazz Mecca Dizzy’s Club, This is Latin Jazz since it features the type of music the trumpeter grew up playing and on which he cut his musical teeth. An all-star group of his colleagues showed up to play with the band, including Randy Brecker, Miguel Zenón, Steve Turre, and Néstor Torres. Sepúlveda’s wife Natalia Mercado also provides a vocal on the touching ballad, “Alfonsina y el Mar.” (https://jazzdelapena.com/new-york-report/charlie-sepulveda-the-turnaround-release-this-is-latin-jazz/) Hot Latin jazz with all engines working! Click here to listen to “Frenesi” from this release.
Jim Snidero – Live At The Deer Head Inn (Savant): “There are so many creative, adventurous jazz musicians out there that it’s arguably the musical genre that’s most always developing and expanding. As cool as all that is, and as much amazing music as is produced, sometimes you just want something old school – and that’s what alto saxophonist Jim Snidero delivers on Live at the Deer Head Inn. Joined by his regular working band of Joe Farnsworth (drums), Peter Washington (bass) and Orrin Evans (piano, also of the Bad Plus), Snidero sets the clock for “bebop” and a program of familiar standards. The quartet’s take on “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Who Can I Turn To” are good examples of what Snidero aims for here: an easy attack, superb solos from Evans and the leader, and performances that swing like mad. The group also brings some serious soul to ballads “Autumn Leaves” and a version of “Ol’ Man River” dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement, and really steps it up a notch on Grant Green’s classic “Idle Moments.” The record ends with the Jerome Kern nugget “Yesterdays,” blazed through at an unusually fast clip, but one that lets every player shine. Nothing innovative here, but that’s not what Snidero is going for. Live at the Deer Head Inn may be the jazz equivalent of comfort food, but there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when it’s this tasty.” (http://bigtakeover.com/recordings/JimSnideroLiveattheDeerHeadInnSavant) Click here to listen to “Idle Moments” from this performance.
Rodney Whitaker – OutroSpection: The Music Of Gregg Hill (Origin): “The charismatic performances that distinguish Outrospection center on the 11 expressive compositions from Gregg Hill, an under-the-radar composer of imagination and emotional depth. Renowned bassist Rodney Whitaker first recognized Hill’s music several years ago, and soon after they teamed up for the 2018 release, “Common Ground.” Warmth and humanity resonate throughout the recording, grown out of their friendship, two men of disparate generations and backgrounds who found each other through the music. “We both know how to listen,” Whitaker reflects. “Our common ground is the music. It’s really the great neutralizer.” The exceptional improvisors joining Whitaker are drawn primarily from the jazz faculty at Michigan State University, the program he has helmed for two decades. Forming quartets and quintets with the rest of the rhythm section, Xavier Davis on piano and drummer Dana Hall, are Etienne Charles on trumpet, trombonist Michael Dease, and saxophonists Diego Rivera and Marcus Elliott. Rockelle Whitaker contributes lyrics and vocals to four of Hill’s compositions.” (https://originarts.com/recordings/recording.php?TitleID=82819) As cited from an earlier release, “The variety is broad and the band itself can blow up a storm!” (WTJU) Click here to listen to samples of two songs from this new release.
Spike Wilner Trio – Aliens & Wizards (Cellar Music): “Cellar Music Group, in association with the SmallsLIVE Foundation, is thrilled to announce the release of Aliens & Wizards, the new album by the Spike Wilner Trio. Recorded at the height of the pandemic, Aliens & Wizards features newly composed music by jazz veteran and impresario Spike Wilner, with the addition of several thoughtful renditions of jazz standards. This spirited release is the follow-up to the trio’s 2017 Cellar Music Group recording Odalisque. Steadfast pianist, bandleader and club manager Spike Wilner has enjoyed a long tenure on the New York City and global jazz scenes, performing with the likes of The Artie Shaw Big Band, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Maynard Furgeson & Lennie Cuje while remaining highly active as a bandleader all while managing iconic NYC Jazz shrines Smalls and Mezzrow. Wilner is joined here by two long-time collaborators, bassist Tyler Mitchell (Art Taylor, Jackie McLean, Barry Harris) and drummer Anthony Pinciotti (James Moody, Dr. Lonnie Smith, John Abercrombie)…. Aliens & Wizards begins with the bright-tempoed “Righty – O!”, Wilner’s piano-centric rendition of a piece by the late drummer and friend of Wilner, Johnny Ellis.Right out of the gate, Wilner demonstrates his seamless integration of ragtime, bop and contemporary stylings. Also on full display is the interplay of a trio with an unmistakably rich history of collaboration….“Non Troppo” and “Adagio” are both Wilner pieces inspired by the artist’s study of Bach and Beethoven…. Lush interpretations of standards mark the center of this album…. The album’s title track “Aliens & Wizards” is a free improvisation, demonstrating the enormous range and cohesion of the ensemble.” (https://lydialiebman.com/index.php/2021/03/01/new-release-spike-wilners-aliens-wizards-due-out-april-23-2021-via-cellar-music-group/) This disc is absolutely fantastic from end to end. Dazzling music regardless of the shift in style. Click here to listen to samples of the fantastic performances on this release.