New Jazz Adds – 6/30/2017
Ambrose Akinmusire – A Rift In Decorum (Live At The Village Vanguard) (Blue Note): Now a fifteen year veteran jazz trumpeter/composer, Ambrose Akinmusire has established himself in both the mainstream and avant garde. He has wonderful control of his instrument, while pressing his instrument into the outer fringes of the music. He respects aural space and attacks standard formulas until the music simply breaks apart into sonic splinters. In addition to Akinmusire’s trumpet, the quartet features Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass) and Justin Brown (drums). All compositions are originals by the leader. While melody is given more command on the second disc in this performance, there is still a tendency to the edge of the music. Click here to listen to the songs on this set.
Mica Bethea Big Band – Stage ’N Studio (Self-produced): Composer/arranger/band leader Mica Bethea has gathered a host of solid players for his big band release, including Greg Balut, Ray Callender, Jay Forman, Dave Champagne, Jonathan Ward, Scott Dickinson and Robert Vandivier (trumpets); Ryan Bricknell, Corey Wilcox, Lance Reed, Wyatt Thomas and Michael Nunez (trombones); Gina “Badeedah” Benalcazar (bass trombone); Todd DelGiudice, Daniel Dickinson, Juan Carlos Rollan, Jose Rojas, Eric Riehm, and Mike Emmert (reeds); Josh Bowlus and Aaron Lehrian (keys); James Hogan and Steve Gallatin (guitar); Stan Piper and Dennis Marks (bass); John Lumpkin Jr (drums); Terry “Doc’ Handy (percussion); Ryan Slatko and Jonah Pierre (vibes); and Linda Cole (vocals). Bethea also presents a studio disc and a live performance on separate discs with minor changes in the program. This makes for an interesting comparison. The playing is dynamic and energizing. Click here for a live performance of the opening song on both discs.
#Bloomerangs – Horizon Sunset (Big Sound): According to their webpage, “#Bloomerangs is an Indiana based international music collective dedicated to exploring musical genres from all around the world. The mission is to integrate different cultures and sounds as a vehicle to a universal human expression through music.” The melange immediately follows and it is a unique blend of rotating players: Tato Bolognini and Martin Gaviglio (drums), Ramiro Flores (soprano, alto & tenor sax), Marco Messina (bass, synth bass), Rodrigo Cotelo (banjo, guitar, percussion, drum programming), Miguel Leal (flugelhorn), Ignacio Labrada and Manuel Contrara (keys), Federico Blois and Luis Ravizza (percussion), Chris Parker (trombone, snare drum, euphonium), Alfredo Monetti and Rodrigo G. Pahlen (piano, harmonica), Matias Arriola (sequencing, keys), Daniel Zehringer and Jeff Parker (trumpet), Hernan Romero (guitar), Todd Hildreth (accordion, harmonica), Juan Rodriguez (violoncello), and Maximilliano Nathan (vibes). All songs are original compositions. The sound would no doubt catch one’s ear if walking in the city square, both for its lilting quality and its engaging rhythm. Click here for a demo performance of a song on this set.
Vivian Buczek – Ella Lives (Prophone): Jazz singer Vivian Buczek has dedicated her sixth disc to Ella Fitzgerald, one of her idols, and though she isn’t Ella, she scats and croons and swings well. In fact, one of the strengths of this disc is that Buczek recognizes her own style and doesn’t try to be Fitzgerald. She honors the legacy itself. Instrumental support is provided by Martin Sjostedt (piano), Niklas Fernqvist (bass) and Johan Lofcrantz Ramsay (drums) with intermittent guest appearances by Mattias Stahl (vibes), Fredrik Lindborg (bass clarinet, tenor sax), Peter Asplund (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Karl-Martin Almqvist (tenor sax). Buczek has selected some of her favorites for the disc, such as “Prelude To A Kiss”, “The Very Thought Of You”, “Lady Be Good” and “It’s Alright With Me”. There’s some nice scatting on the last two. Click here to listen to three songs from this disc.
Johnny DeFrancesco – A Tribute To B.B. King’s “Live At The Regal” (Ton a’ Chopps): Vocalist/guitarist Johnny DeFrancesco offers a heartfelt tribute to the late B.B. King by recording his own version of one of King’s great live releases – “Live At The Regal”. The songs are recorded in the same order as on the original release, but there is one amazing difference: Duke Jethro, who played piano on the original performance is playing organ on this one. Here’s the story: When the band arrived at the Regal Theater, Jethro, who had had problems with his organ at the previous night’s gig and hadn’t been able to get it fixed, discovered that the house organ was broken as well. He went to King to explain the situation and King told him to use the house piano. Jethro replied, “But I don’t play piano!” King replied, “Do what you always do – pretend!” So that night, Jethro was a piano player! This time he’s on organ (and piano, at times)! Other players include Jerry Donato (sax, horn arrangements), Scott Mandel (trumpet), Jerry Weldon (sax), Roger Dryer (bass) and Dowell Davis (drums). The original release was the first live recording by B.B. and influenced a number of players, including Eric Clapton. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Alex Goodman – Second Act (Lyte): Home based in NYC, Canadian guitarist and composer Alex Goodman offers his sixth release. He has previously recorded with John Patitucci and has performed with Charles Lloyd and Jane Monheit among others. This disc has a flavor all its own. It features eleven new original compositions by Goodman and a style that is wonderfully fresh. There are several different sounds from jazz rock (with the emphasis on jazz) to passages focused on electronica and enriched by vocals from Felicity Williams and Alex Samaras that blend with several of the instruments and add a new flavor to the music. The group includes Matt Marantz (sax, ewi), Eden Ladin (piano, rhodes, lowery), Rick Rosato (bass) and Jimmy MacBride (drums). The many musical shades make this a terrific release. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to listen to the opening track (“Questions”).
Alan Leatherman – Her (Self-produced): New release from singer/songwriter Alan Leatherman who studied at Julliard and NYU and now releases his second disc. The music is a soul/jazz/pop melange, well suited for Leatherman’s melodic tenor. He, in fact, co-wrote seven of the ten songs on the disc. Supporting musicians include Rick Germanson (piano) replaced by David Cook on one song; Gerald Cannon (bass); Nate Smith (drums); Jeremy Most (guitar); Jeremy Pelt trumpet; with Shayna Steele and Freedom Bremner (backing vocals). It’s a mellow set. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
New Vision Sax Ensemble – Musical Journey Through Time (Self-produced): The New Vision Sax Ensemble is stylistically reminiscent of the World Saxophone Quartet, except that their vision is to play a variety of standards without the original and often more avant garde selections. Nonetheless, it is delightful to hear a new slice of saxophone ensemble playing. The ensemble includes Diron Holloway (soprano, alto sax, clarinet), James Lockhart (alto sax), Jason Hainsworth (tenor sax) and Melton R. Mustafa (baritone sax). This performance includes a range of styles and eras from “Scott Joplin Portrait”, “Amazing Grace” and “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey” to “A Night In Tunisia”, Round Midnight” and “My Favorite Things”. It’s a delightful ear catcher! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Ariel Pocock – Living In Twilight (Justin Time): This is Pianist/singer Ariel Pocock’s second release and the program includes a range of styles, including standards like Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought Of You” and Cole Porter’s “So In Love”; pop songs like Sufjan Stevens’ “To Be Alone With You” and Kate McGarrigle’s “Go Leave”; and Pocock’s originals. Her vocal style is often wistful or hesitant. Her piano playing is spare but shifts styles with the flavor of the song. Her rendition of “When You Wish Upon A Star” is particularly fresh and delightful and she truly stretches out on one of her originals, “Hymn”. Pocock is supported by Adrian Vedady (bass) and Jim Doxas (drums) , with the addition of guitarist Chico Pinheiro on five songs. Click here to listen to “Hymn”.
Bill Simenson Orchestra – Big Alpaca (Self-produced): A dozen original compositions by big band leader Bill Simenson showcase the “Big Alpaca”, a rough translation of Norwegian slang meaning something like “Holy Cow”. The disc is dramatic and intriguing and does swing! The 17 piece band has been performing monthly in Minneapolis for the past 5 years and includes Pete Whitman (soprano, alto sax); Doug Little (alto sax, flute); Clay Pufahl and Scott Johnson (tenor sax); Gus Sandberg (bari sax); Paul Stodolka, Bill Simenson, Elizabeth Stodilka and Jake Baldwin (trumpet, flugelhorn); Pate Enblom, Ryan Christianson, and Matt Hanzelka (trombone); Derek Crosier (bass trombone); Ted Godbout (piano); David Martin (guitar); Chris Bates (bass); and Dave Schmalenberger (drums). The performances are smooth, tight and dynamic. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
John Stein with Dave Zinno – Wood and Strings (Whaling City Sound): “John Stein is an experienced teacher, clinician, recording artist, and author. John has performed as a leader or a sideman with some of the world’s finest jazz acts, and his compositions and performances cover the spectrum of jazz styles.” (Webpage) He is an outstanding guitarist and is also a professor in the Harmony Department of Berklee College of Music in Boston. On this disc, Stein has teamed up with bassist Dave Zinno to present a four original pieces, one original by bassist Dave Zinno, as well as compositions ranging from Johnny Mercer to Dizzy Gillespie and Sam Rivers. Stein and Zinno interact beautifully with each other throughout. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Mark Winkler – The Company I Keep (Cafe Pacific): Celebrated lyricist and singer Mark Winkler has written lyrics for composers Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon and Joshua Redman, among others, and has had many songs recorded by a wide range of singers. This disc is dedicated to Winkler’s deceased husband and features performances of songs by other composers, such as Prince, Donald Fagan and the Gershwins and six songs whose lyrics were written by Winkler who also sings throughout the disc. He also duets with Jackie Ryan, Cheryl Bentyne, Steve Tyrell, Claire Martin and Sara Gazarek on one song each. Musicians include Jamieson Trotter, Rich Eames, Eric Reed, John Beasley and David Benoit (piano, organ); Lyman Medeiros and John Clayton (bass); Mike Shapiro, Jeff Hamilton, and Kevin Winard (drums); Larry Koonse (guitar); and has occasional horn appearances by Bob McChesney (trombone); Ron Blake and/or Brian Swartz (trumpets); Bob Sheppard (tenor, soprano sax); Don Shelton (clarinet); and Paul Cartwright (violin). Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.