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Antonio Adolfo – Tema (Self-produced): Adolfo is a Brazilian pianist / composer / arranger / producer / educator who began his professional recording career in the 1964. Though he has frequently recorded and promoted classic Brazilian music written by the biggest names. This disc still focuses on Brazilian compositions, but this time they are his in a retrospective of some of his personal favorites. He wrote or co-wrote all of these and now has rearranged or partially rewritten based upon his deeper or more mature musical insights. In addition to his piano, Adolfo is supported by Marcelo Martins (flute, soprano sax), Leo Amuedo (electric guitar), Claudio Spiewak (acoustic guitar), Jorge Helder (bass), Rafael Barata (drums, percussion) and Armando Marcal (percussion). Click here for a sample from this disc.
Corbin Andrick – Olmstead’s Whistle (Self-produced): Alto sax player and session leader Corbin Andrick offers ten of his original compositions with musical support from Marquis Hill (trumpet), Daniel Bruce (guitar), Brad MacDonald (keys), Katie Ernst (bass), Andrew Green (drums, percussion) and Juan Pastor (cajon, congas). Paul Mutzabaugh adds organ on one track. The group plays tight, yet flowing music with the comfort to respect the space as well as the notes. Nicely played throughout. I understand that this band has broken up and that Andrick and MacDonald are working on forming a new group. Andrick certainly has the skills! Click here for a live version of a song on this disc.
Columbia College Jazz Ensemble – Columbia College Jazz Ensemble (Columbia College Chicago): The Ensemble features five saxes, four trombones, four trumpets and piano, guitar, bass and two drummers and a second group, the five piece Columbia College Jazz Combo, whose members are drawn from the ensemble. Songs on this disc include compositions by Cedar Walton, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Timmons, Ray Bryant, Fats Waller, Warne Marsh, Edgar Sampson, and an original composition by director Scott Hall.
George Freeman & Chico Freeman – All In The Family (Southport): This family reunion began with the musical reunion of guitarist George Freeman and his legendary sax-playing nephew Chico (tenor & soprano), but expanded to other Chicago players with whom they had played in the past, including Kirk Brown (keys), Harrison Bankhead (bass), Hamid Drake and Joe Jenkins (drums, percussion), Reto Weber (bang), Mike Allemana (guitar) and Joanie Pallatto (voice) thus acknowledging the musical family of Chicago. This disc features a mix of brief improvised interludes between a dozen compositions mostly written by one the Freemans. The music is a mix of exotic interludes and standard style jazz in a swinging and mellow mood. Click here for a preview of this disc.
Hell’s Kitchen Funk Orchestra – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Blujazz): Bill Warfield has pulled together a new big band composed of musicians he has worked with over the long haul to create big band performances of a wide array of pop and jazz styles and eras. The result is The Hell’s Kitchen Funk Orchestra featuring a revolving grouping of Bill Warfield, John Eckert, and Amanda Cortessa (trumpets); Jens Christian Jensen, Andrew Gold, and Mark Phaneuf (alto sax); Glenn Cashman and Tyrone Fredericks (tenor sax); Libor Smoldas and Paul Livant (guitar); Jakub Zomer and Jill McCarron (keys); Steve Count and Mark wade (bass); and Scott Neumann and Eric Halvorson (drums). The songs varied from “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” (Zawinul-Watson-Williams) to “Fiesta a la King” (Tito Puente) to “Jitterbug Waltz” (Fats Waller) to “Freedom Jazz dance” (Eddie Harris), to Randy Brecker’s “Some Skunk Funk” to “Cry Me A River” and the Ohio Players’ “Fire”. Click here for a sample from the disc.
Ben Monder – Hydra (Sunnyside Communications): Guitarist Ben Monder has been described as a “very evolved kind of musician” (Pat Metheny) who “uses his…gifts” (prodigious finger picking skills and unusual voicings) “to create detailed sonic landscapes of mystery and power.” (Allen Morrison, Downbeat Magazine). The beginning of this disc reminded me of a cross between Chick Corea just before the formation of Return To Forever and the more electronic early releases on ECM (a bit like the outer space soundtrack in the final scenes of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Monder plays guitar and some bass and is joined by John Patitucci and Skuli Sverrisson on bass, Ted Poor on drums, and Theo Bleckmann, Gian Slater and Martha Cluver on vocals. All of the latter provide lyric-less vocal atmosphere exceptt on the final song (“Charlotte’s Song”) which includes the text by E.B. White in song. The disc is beautiful and unusual. Click here to hear the opening track on this disc.
Joanna Pascale – Wildflower (Stretto): “Wildflowers grow under the most unlikely circumstances.” That’s how Pascale introduces this disc on her web page and it is a perfect description of the song list on this disc. Pascale has selected songs from a surprisingly diverse group of origins and transforms them into her own creations. The composers range from JJ Johnson & Tony Haywood to Gerry Goffin & Carole King to Buddy DeSylva & George Gershwin to Stevie Wonder to Henry Glover among others. In each case, Pascale makes these songs her own. The musicians provide terrific soundscapes for across the songs as well and feature Orrin Evans (piano), Cyrus Chestnut (piano, B3), Vincente Archer, Christian McBride and Luques Curtis (bass), Obed Calvaire and Donald Edwards (drums), Gregoire Maret (harmonica), Bilal (vocal), and Kurt Rosenwinkel and Tim Motzer (guitar). Click here for a preview of this disc.
Albert Rivera – Back At It (Self-produced): Award winning saxophonist, jazz composer, educator Rivera describes this disc as the result of his revitalized energy and creativity. The music jumps right off with the infectious, joyful and irresistible energy of He Said, She Said that requires dancing or, at the least, toe-tapping for the less active crew. Rivera then turns around three songs later with one of the most beautiful melodies I’ve heard in a good while (Distance Of Your Smile) before he sweeps you away in the smooth flow of Remember When. In addition to Rivera’s alto (he switches to tenor on one song), the band includes Andrew Hadro (baritone sax), Nick Roseboro (trumpet), Andrew Lipow (guitar), Zaccai Curtis, Beck Burger (keys), Ian Caroll (drums) with added bass by Luques Curtis and Jonathan Michel on selected tunes. There is significant style and mood shifting on this disc and this group plays with great cohesion regardless of who the soloist or what the style is. Click here for a promo of this disc.
Steve Slagle & Bill O’Connell – The Power Of Two (Panorama): Flute / alto sax player Slagle and pianist O’Connell make a point of proving the title of this disc not only through their individual artistry – playing and composing – but also as a highly effective performing partnership. They play beautifully together, trade leads and comp or even drop out in a way that highlights each performance and the partnership. They also composed seven of the eleven songs on the disc. Click here for a promo of this disc.
Gecko Turner – That Place, By The Thing With The Cool Name (Lovemonk): Music fusionist Turner blends so many styles throughout this disc that it must have been very hard to categorize it. Jazz, soul, funk, pop, latin, world beat…all apply at one point or another. While diverse, most of the music is highly accessible. Its buoyancy mostly keeps you feet tapping or your body swaying. It is reminiscent of the soul jazz that was popular a few years back, but sounds a good bit fresher. Click here to listen to a sample song from this disc.
Donald Vega – With Respect To Monty (Resonance): Don’t take my word for it. How about this? “I am greatly delighted that the fantastic, inventive pianist Donald Vega has applied his wonderful creativity to compositions of mine. I enjoyed his unique interpretation.” (Monty Alexander). Vega is the arranger / pianist in question and he is accompanied by Anthony Wilson (guitar), Hasaan Shakur (bass), and Lewis Nash (drums). Seven of the compositions are Alexander’s, two are composed in his style, and the finale is a tribute composed by Vega. The following link will do a better job of introducing this disc than I can. Click here for a promo and sample from this disc.
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet – Intercambio (Patois): Two time Grammy nominee for Latin jazz, Wallace is the leader / arranger and trombonist of the quintet, supported by David Belove (bass), Colin Douglas (drums, percussion), Murray Low (piano) and Michael Spiro (percussion, arranger) and occasional guests who contribute flute, violin, viola, cello, steel drums, trombone and/or vocals. This obviously results in a range of tones which becomes less surprising when you consider the composers represented here: JJ Johnson, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and Carmichael & Loesser, with the remaining four titles composed by Wallace. It is an interesting notion to arrange soem of these songs in such a different setting, but that’s certainly one of the amazing aspects of jazz! Click here for a live performance by this group.