New Jazz Adds – 8/3/2020
David Boswell – The Story Behind The Story (My Quiet Moon): “David Boswell has a unique approach to music with his use of synthesized guitars, different electric and acoustic guitars including mandolin and ukulele and the incorporation of his voice as a melodic instrument. David’s music transports the listener and sends them off on amazing journeys through his adventurous and melodic music. The music is cinematic at times and tends to leave the listener with beautiful melodies ringing in their heads long after the music stops.” (https://www.davidboswell.com/bio) Boswell began his musical journey as a young teenager and studied with Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette for several weeks. He has become a respected musician in his home in California. This is his most accomplished set of performances to date. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Ryan Cohan – Originations (Origin): “Originations is Cohan’s latest original multi-movement composition and soon-to-be-released recording. Scored for a chamber jazz ensemble consisting of Cohan’s long-standing sextet plus string quartet, Originations dynamically synthesizes Middle Eastern and other World music influences, classical compositional elements and improvisation…. Cohan has worked with such jazz luminaries and elite large ensembles as Freddie Hubbard, Joe Locke, Andy Narell, Jon Faddis, Paquito D’Rivera, Kurt Elling, Gregory Porter, Victor Lewis, Bob Cranshaw, Jeff Hamilton, Steve Wilson, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, MusicNOW Ensemble, Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra with Otis Clay and The Chicago Chamber Musicians among others.” (http://ryancohan.com/about/bio/) This release has Cohen performing with John Wojciechowski (clarinet, flute, alto flute, tenor sax), Geof Bradfield (bass clarinet, soprano sax), Tito Carrillo (trumpet, flugelhorn), James Cammack (bass), Michael Raynor (drums) and Omar Musfi (riqq, frame drum, dumbek) and the Kaia String Quartet, featuring Victoria Moreira and Naomi Culp (violins), Amanda Grimm (viola) and Hope DeCelle (cello). The performance is terrific and will appeal to classical and jazz fans. Click here to listen to three short samples from this release: “Sabra”, “Imaginary Lines” and “Essence”.
Gordon Grdina – Gordon Grdina’s Nomad Trio (Skirl): “Juno award winning Oud/Guitarist with a unique sound combining mainstream jazz, free/improv and Arabic music.” (https://gordongrdina.bandcamp.com/album/nomad) The other musicians on this disc are Matt Mitchell (piano) and Jim Black (drums). Nomad is a potent mix. Grdina’s music sometimes incorporates themes and influences from Iraq or Egypt, with his oud playing helping to blend traditions. He is also an accomplished free improviser and a player with strong instincts for motivic improvising in the post-bop tradition. As with so many other Vancouver musicians, he crosses the borders of harmonic and rhythmic daring without much fuss. The music here sets up loose structures for wild improvising but also includes a healthy menu of hot unison licks and fleet melodies. The partnership with Mitchell and Black, then, makes sense. Black, of course, was the rocking jazz drummer who powered so many brilliant “downtown” sessions 20 years ago (with, for example, Chris Speed) and has since made both sensitive and flashy sessions with so many musicians. Mitchell leaps from relatively mainstream playing (with trumpeter Dave Douglas) to frenetic New Jazz that blends complex composition in wild time patterns with near-heavy metal veins of power. With Grdina bringing his slightly acid-toned guitar into this conversation, the result sounds natural and fiery. Grdina composed all of the music. Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
Bartosz Hadala Group – Three Short Stories (Self-produced): “Polish-Canadian pianist Bartosz Hadala moved from New York City to Toronto in 2010. His most prominent recording happened that year, when he put together The Runner Up with an ensemble featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker and drummer Antonio Sanchez. With his latest work, Three Short Stories, he sets another bold move and points to a different direction as his electric group navigates a beguiling mix of styles and tackles 12 original compositions that pay tribute to his hero, the pianist Chick Corea.” (https://jazztrail.net/blog/bartosz-hadala-three-short-stories-album-review) The players are Bartosz Hadala (piano, Fender Rhodes), Luis Deniz (alto sax), Eric St-Laurent (guitar), Brad Cheeseman (electric bass), Marito Marque (drums, percussion), Kelly Jefferson (soprano sax), Michael Manring (bass guitar) and João Frade (accordion). The music swings with energy. Click here to listen to “EST”, a song from this disc.
Charles Hamilton & Beyond – Mr. Hamuda (Global): “He had been teaching music in the Berkeley Unified School District for ten years, when he was offered the chance to take over for Phil Hardymon, the developer, along with Herb Wong, of the Jazz Program. During Charles’ tenure, he was the music teacher for many of the music industry’s outstanding musicians, inspiring the likes of Joshua Redman, Miles Perkins, Josh Jones, Thomas Pridgen, Dave Ellis, Kito Gamble, John Smith, Ambrose Akinmusire, Hitomi Oba, Sean Erick, Billy Buss, and many others. Charles’ began performing in the mid-60’s while still a teenager. In His home town of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he played trumpet in his high school band by day, and rhythm and blues in a back woods’ night club band by night. He came to San Francisco in 1965, earning a Bachelor of Music Degree in Instrumental Music, Education emphasis, from San Francisco State. He is currently a professor at The University of California at Santa Cruz, directing the UCSC Jazz Big Band. He also instructs at The JazzSchool (Berkeley, CA), leading the High School Combo.” (http://charleshamilton.net/biography/) Click here to listen to songs on this disc.
Jimmy Heath – Love Letter (Verve): “Love Letter is the final album to be made by saxophonist Jimmy Heath, who passed in January 2020 aged 93. It was completed just a month earlier. The title is well chosen: the album is a love letter to jazz, a love letter to ballads, and a love letter to Heath’s surviving family members, friends and audience. Soulful and luminous, it is everything one could hope for in the last will and testament of a jazz master. Heath performed on more than a hundred albums during his career and worked with practically every jazz giant of his generation (and more than a few from succeeding generations)…. On Love Letter, Heath plays tenor on seven tracks and soprano on one. He is accompanied by a multi-generational lineup comprising pianist Kenny Barron, guitarist Russell Malone, vibraphonist Monte Croft, bassist David Wong and drummer Lewis Nash. Gregory Porter and Cecile McLorin Salvant add vocals to Gordon Parks’ “Don’t Misunderstand” and Mal Waldron’s “Left Alone” respectively. Wynton Marsalis is featured on Kenny Dorham’s “La Mesha.” Click here to listen to that song from the disc.
Pokey LaFarge – Rock Bottom Rhapsody (New West): Singer Pokey Lafarge presents a disc full of original pop compositions for the current time. “Some people might think of crooners in the sense of the Bing Crosby-Frank Sinatra-Dean Martin type of era, which of course I love, but also I would consider people like Roy Orbison, Nick Cave, Bob Dylan and Tom Jones crooners, as well. I’ve always loved that narrative style of singing, always loved ballads — just taking your voice to the limit and telling a story.” (https://www.pokeylafarge.net/bio) Click here to listen to “End Of My Rope” from this disc.
Robert Pinsky & Laurence Hobgood – Poemjazz (Circumstantial): PoemJazz is an album by poet, essayist, literary critic, translator and America’s 39th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Robert Pinsky, and Grammy-Award-winning pianist, composer, and arranger, Laurence Hobgood. Released by Circumstantial Productions in 2012, the album was produced by Richard Connolly and Laurence Hobgood.  PoemJazz treats a voice speaking poetry as having a role like that of a horn: speech with its own poetic melody and rhythm, in conversation with what the music is doing. The variations in pitch and cadence are those inherent in the words themselves, as they make their way through the lines: idiom true to itself while adapting its rhythms and pitches to counterparts in the music. The melodic arcs and contours of the grammar, the patterns of the consonants and vowels—all these in the poetry are in conversation with the music: not sung, not acted, but spoken as verse, responding to the music. The music, in turn, is in conversation with the poetry, rather than illustrating it or interpreting it or setting it. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PoemJazz) Click here to listen to “The Hearts”, a song from this release.
Robert Pinsky & Laurence Hobgood – Poemjazz II (Circumstantial): “PoemJazz, Laurence Hobbgood’s ongoing collaboration with former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, now includes frequent appearances by master multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Stan Strickland. Robert and Laurence recently released their second CD, House Hour/Poemjazz II, on the Circumstantial label. ‘This has been one of the most rewarding, enlightening and fascinating experiences of my life; it’s also a very interesting example of cross-disciplinary collaboration.’” (Laurence Hobgood) True, it’s a lot like lyrics in a song, but it’s spoken and the pianist seeks to mesh with the tone and subject of the poem. Each aspect informs the wonder of the performance. In fact, this release came out in 2014 and “Poemjazz II” was released in 2015. The style is not a large field, but it is certainly unique and alluring. Click here to listen to samples of Pinsky’s poetry, some of which are represented on this disc.
Joshua Redman / Brad Mehldau / Christian McBride / Brian Blade – Round Again (Nonesuch): “A reunion of saxophonist Joshua Redman’s original acoustic quartet, 2020’s ebullient RoundAgain showcases his long-running creative friendship with bandmates pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade. Redman first documented the sound of this group on his acclaimed 1994 album MoodSwing. Even then, the quartet was a supergroup in the making, featuring four of the most highly touted players of their generation. While they have continued to work together in various incarnations throughout their careers, RoundAgain is the first proper recording by the quartet in over two decades. As with MoodSwing, RoundAgain features all-original music with each player bringing along a composition. As each of the four musicians here have distinguished themselves as distinctive bandleaders in their own right, it’s fascinating to hear their individual styles come to the fore throughout the album.” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/roundagain-mw0003368612) Exquisite! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Mike Reed – Flesh & Bone (482 Music): “Mike Reed is a Musician, composer, bandleader and arts presenter based in Chicago. Over the last two decades he has emerged as a dominant force within Chicago’s diverse artistic community, both through the music he makes and the live events he produces.” (https://mikereed1.bandcamp.com/album/flesh-bone) This disc was originally released in 2017 and features Greg Ward (alto sax), Tim Haldeman (tenor sax), Jason Roebke (bass), Mike Reed (drums), Ben Lamar Gay (cornet), Jason Stein (bass clarinet) and Marvin Tate (words). (https://mikereed1.bandcamp.com/album/flesh-bone) “In 2009 while on tour, Mike Reed’s jazz quartet was caught in the middle of a neo-Nazi rally in the Czech Republic. This harrowing experience is the core of a new project, Flesh & Bone, that will premiere on November 20, 2015, at the Art Institute of Chicago. During the development, Reed will examine the background of the incident and engage in conversations with peers about art, race, politics, and the challenges of being pushed into a place of discomfort.” (https://mikereed-music.com/flesh-bone) Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
The Ben Rosenblum Trio – The Music Of Greg Hill (Cold Plunge): “Award-winning jazz pianist, composer and accordionist Ben Rosenblum has been described as “mature beyond his years,” (Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility), and as an “impressive talent” (C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz), who “caresses [the music] with the reverence it merits” (Bob Doerschuk, Downbeat Magazine). Ben is based primarily in New York City, and is a graduate of the Columbia-Juilliard program (in 2016). His original music combines his extensive knowledge of the history of jazz with a free-wheeling, modern melodic sensibility and powerful narrative approach to the piano. His profound passion for jazz, swing and world music genres finds expression in his unique fusion of harmonic and rhythmic elements from a wide array of sources, and gives rise to a signature compositional sound and style at once iconoclastic and deeply rooted in such figures as Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly. Ben’s first priority in his composition and in his playing is always narrative – to tell a compelling story with his music, while reaching the hearts of his audience, connecting on an emotional, an intellectual and a spiritual level.” On this disc, Rosenblum features the music of Gregg Hill as performed by Rosenblum on piano, Marty Jaffe (bass) and Ben Zweig (drums). This is a fine performance from beginning to end. Click here for an introduction to the compositions of Greg Hill by Rosenblum solo.