New Jazz Adds – 7/6/2017
Zem Audu – Spirits (Origin): Nigerian-born, London-raised, tenor sax player Zem Audu presents his own take on funky soul or fusion jazz. Having first explored piano and guitar, Audu eventually settled on sax and studied with Courtney Pine as well as with Jean Toussaint at Trinity College of Music. This is his second release as a leader. He composed all of the songs on the disc, which also features Mike Stern (guitar), Benito Gonzales (piano), Ben Williams (bass) and John Davis (drums). Everyone plays wonderfully, with a special note for the interaction between Stern and Audu. A must for fans of the genre and of sax/guitar interplay! Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Ensemble Novo – Who Saw You Then, Who Sees You Now (Self-produced): Based in Philadelphia, Ensemble Novo explores samba, jazz and other related styles, with concentration on group performance more than soloing. The music is very pleasant and carries an upbeat but mellow sound. Group members include Ryan McNeely (guitar), Behn Gillece (vibes), Tom Moon (tenor sax, flute), Mark Przybylowski (bass), and Jim Hamilton (percussion). There is pleasant interplay across the group. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Havana Maestros – AmeriCuba (Sounds Worldwide): The Havana Maestros present a compelling and intriguing disc that turns the practice of reviving old hits as a tribute to American songs but with a Cuban twist: use original vocals while the music itself is in a Cuban style. What originals? “Good Times” by Chic, “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King and “(Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding are interesting examples. The voice tracks from the originals are given a musical backing that recalls the Buena Vista Social Club. Ten of the thirteen songs are presented that way and of the remaining three, two are original compositions by the group and one is a remake of “My Way”, the song most associated with Frank Sinatra but done in Cuban on this disc. It’s truly fascinating to hear transformations of these songs! Delightful! Click here for an overview of the music on this disc.
Ryan Keberle & Cathasis – Find The Common – Shine A Light (Greenleaf): “Find The Common, Shine A Light; Become The Water, Put Out The Fire”. These are the opening lyrics to this unique philosophical, jazz protest release. What’s it all about? “When was America actually ‘great’? We know the stories of the “good old days,” but doesn’t the fact that those times, rife with severe racial prejudice, religious persecution, and homophobia, negate whatever simple or easier living some people might reminisce about? The real history of this country, especially for those less fortunate, is an ugly one. Yet, in 2016, rather than striving to move forward, building on real momentum of the past 8 years, 50 million Americans chose to move unarguably backwards. Forward progress is such a simple thing to attain when you boil things down. It’s about one thing – compassion for others and this song looks to make that point.” (Liner notes on the theme of the album) Along the way, the disc presents almost dream-like philosophical pieces like “Become The Water” and includes wonderful covers of songs like “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Fool On The Hill” embedded in original instrumentals. It closes with a troubling realization that the challenge and the way ahead lies within one’s ability to connect with those with whom we disagree and respect one another. They close with an acknowledgement of the loneliness and difficulty of finding the strength and wisdom to accomplish that. This is a powerful statement and one that demands our hearing and digesting and finding the strength to move ahead toward a reunification of values. Click here and scroll down to listen to the songs on this disc.
Dave Liebman / Joe Lovano – Compassion: The Music Of John Coltrane (Resonance): Here’s a new tribute to the music of John Coltrane from two of the top players in jazz – Dave Liebman (tenor, soprano sax, wooden recorder, C flute) and Joe Lovano (tenor sax, autochrome, alto clarinet, Scottish flute) with Phil Markowitz (piano) and a rhythm section of Ron McClure (bass) and Billy Hart (drums). In answer to the question “What do you want people to take away…after listening to this album?”, Liebman replied, “The vastness of Coltrane’s music, (sic) and the amazing vision he had.” What better musicians could there be to tackle this? Songs include “Locomotion”, “Central Park/Dear Lord”, “Ole”, “Reverend King”, “Equinox” and “Compassion”. Click here to listen to an introduction and raison d’être for this release.
Riverside – The New National Anthem (Greenleaf Music): This is the second release by Riverside, led by Dave Douglas (trumpet) and Chet Doxas (clarinet, sax) with support from Steve Swallow (electric bass) and Jim Doxas (drums). The presentation falls between old time music with a smattering of dixieland and free improvisation. There is also a lot of “space” in the performances as Douglas and Doxas trade off leads. The material is all original: six composed by Douglas, one each by Swallow and Chet Doxas and three by Carla Bley. It’s a unique sound with the shifting styles and more than a little whimsey. Click here to listen to “Old Country”, a Douglas composition on this disc.
Hiroe Sekine – One World One Sun (Sony Music Direct): Pianist/composer Hiroe Sekine offers a jazz-folk-world fusion with twelve original compositions. Sekine composed all of the songs and is supported by bassist Michael Valerio throughout, though shifting between acoustic and electric. Peter Erskine (drums) performs on all but three songs and additional guest players appear on one of more songs. That group includes Kazuhiko Kondo (soprano sax); Yukihiro Isso (nokan, dengakubue); Antonio de Jerez (palmas, vox); Alex Acuna (cajon, drums darbukkah, bombo); Andy Narell (steel drums); Russell Ferrante (melodica); Paul Livingstone (sitar); Brad Dutz (tabla); Kauri Aoi (sanshin); Charlie Bisharet (violin); Eric Rigler (Uilleann pipes); Geoff Dent (gender, reyong); Dimitris Mahlis (oud); Larry Koones (tenor ukulele); and Edgar Husman Vera (zampona). The songs themselves represent the following regions or countries: Japan, Spain, the Caribbean, India, Okinawa, Ireland, Indonesia, Morocco, Hawaii and Peru. The mix is intriguing and enticing. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Grant Stewart Trio – Roll On (Cellar Live): Beboppers and post boppers take note: If you love the early trio sound of Sonny Rollins, you will certainly enjoy the Grant Stewart Trio. They cover some very old standards by the likes of Kurt Weill (“Here I’ll Stay”) and Layton and Creamer (“After You’ve Gone”), as well as Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco” and Fats Navarro’s “Fats Flats”. If that sounds good, you want to check out this disc. The group features Grant Stewart (tenor sax), Paul Sikivie (bass), and Phil Stewart (drums) and they have this style solid to the core! Get your hip boots placed and laced right here! Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Tryyo – Flying Box (pfMentum): Here’s a new trio featuring Michael Vlatkovich (trombone/composer), Jonathan Golove (electric cello) and Damon Short (drums) playing all original material. Most of the music is fairly straight ahead, but they sometimes veer toward the strange zone, experimenting with harmony and group interaction. The electric cello and trombone are a unique combination and the group is quite comfortable with stretching the boundaries. Click here to listen to a song from this disc.
Carlos Vega – Bird’s Up (Origin): This is the second release by educator and tenor and soprano sax player Carlos Vega. He has a smooth and limber style on the sax and in addition to being a music professor at Florida A&M, he performs with the Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble. He returned to the windy city to make this second disc with his Chicago connections: Victor Garcia (trumpet, flugelhorn); Stu Mindeman (piano, Rhodes); Josh Ramos (bass) and Xavier Breaker (drums). That group is augmented on one song by Cheryl Wilson (vocal), Scott Hesse (guitar), Steve Strand (flugelhorn) and Michael B. Nelson (trombone). The playing is tight and quite smooth and features Vega’s wonderful bop playing to great advantage. There’s plenty of room for Latin styling as well. Click here to listen to the title song on this disc.
Walt Weiskopf – Fountain Of Youth (Posi-Tone): Saxophonist/composer/educator Walt Weiskopf began playing sax at age 14 and has never looked back. He began his professional career at 21, spending a year with the Buddy Rich big band, followed by a fourteen year stint with Toshiko Akiyoshi. He has also played with classical orchestras and such notables as Frank Sinatra, Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs. Weiskopf’s long-running and current sideman gig is with Steely Dan. He has published seven books on improvisation and has released 17 recordings as a leader. His playing on this disc made me think most often of a Coltrane influence, but he clearly has his own voice. Weiskopf is accompanied by Behn Gillece (vibes), Peter Zak (piano), Mike Karn (bass) and Steve Fidyk (drums). Six of the tunes are Weiskopf compositions. This is a solid jazz disc that would appeal to fans of the great masters as well as to a different group sound. Click here and then click on songs titles for this disc (top) to listen to samples from this disc.
Spike Wilner Trio – Odalisque (Cellar Live): Composer/pianist Spike Wilner has a beautifully flowing style somewhat like a stream flowing downhill through the rocks. He offers four original compositions and celebrates the great American songbook from Donaldson’s “You” to Rodgers’ “Little Girl Blue” and Livingston, Symes and Neiburg’s “It’s The Talk Of The Town”, before closing out with “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Wilner is accompanied by Tyler Mitchell (bass) and Anthony Pinciotti (drums). This is a truly enjoyable set and the blend of old and new is a bonus. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.