New Jazz Adds – 9/1/2015

New Jazz Adds – 9/1/2015

Tad Britton – Cicada (Origin): The title of this disc is concretely meaningful: Britton describes the life cycle of cicadas in his liner notes, emphasizing the wonder and mystery of the appearance and disappearance of these creatures and after acknowledging that no new really understands the functionality of this cycle, explains that these recordings having been dormant (missing, in fact) since 1992-93 have now emerged to share their impact and mystery with of the message they offered when completed. We may never know the why-fors, but we do have the opportunity to experience what was underground for so many years. The group was comprised of Tad Britton (drums, percussion, guitar), Hans Teuber (sax, keys, flute, cowbell), Jeff Johnson (bass), and Pete Fogle (guitar). The sound is similar to some ECM recordings – pleasant, haunting, somewhat derivative, and jazzy. Click here to listen to songs on this disc.

Carter Calvert – It’s A Man’s World (Self-produced): Broadway singer/actress Calvert has selected 13 popular songs to render in a jazzy or stage version, interpreting them with her vision of their possibilities. It works better for some than others: James Brown’s It’s A Man’s World  works rather well, but Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing not so well for my ears. Calvert has lots of musical support along the way. The musicians include Joshua Bowlus (piano), Ben Williams (bass), Ulysses Owens Jr (drums), Daniel Dickinson (alto), Alphonso Horne (trumpet), Eric Miller (trombone), David Rosenthal (guitar) on one session and Joel Frahm (tenor, soprano sax), Lawrence Hobgood (piano), Damon Mack (B-3), Marco Panascia (bass), and Olysses Owens Jr (drums) on the second. Click here for a promo for this disc.  

The City Boys Allstars – Personal Thing (Self-produced): Large band from NYC whose focus is  an old soul sound with significant pop leanings. They open with nice version of Joe Zawinul’s “Birdland”, followed by eleven originals. The band features Mike Merola (guitar), Al MacDowell (bass, wrote 4 songs), Rob Clores (keys), Nick Saya (drums), Daniel Sadoznick (percussion), Tony Padlock and Lew Soloff (trumpets), Andy Snitzer, “Blue Lou” Marini and Tom “Bones” Malone (saxes, Malone also on trombone), and vocalists Bill Kurz (wrote 2 songs), Angel Rissoff (wrote 2 songs), and Horace Scott (wrote 3 songs). Robert Ross adds slide guitar on one song. The band is a tight unit. I’d keep an ear out for Angel Rissoff whose vocals and particularly solos truly stand out. Click here and then scroll down the page to listen to songs from this disc.

Electric Squeezebox Orchestra – Cheap Rent (OA2): This is a seventeen piece big band based in San Francisco whose members wrote seven of the ten songs on offer and created arrangements for the covers, composed by such talents as Wayne Shorter, Mel Torme and Herbie Hancock.  The band features as many as five trumpet players, including Erik Jekabson, Darren Johnston, Doug Morton, Henry Hung, Dave Scoot and Ian Carey; six saxes, including Sheldon Brown and Kasey Knudsen (alto), Michael Wilber, Marcus Stephens, and Teddy Raven (tenor), and Charlie Burke (bari); five trombones, including Rob Ewing, Mitch Butler, Danny Lubin-Laden, Patrick Malabuyo, and Richard Lee; with Grant Levin or Colin Hogan (piano), Jordan Samuels (guitar), Tommy Folen (bass), and Eric Garland or Alan Hall (drums). They play well individually and as an ensemble throughout this debut disc. Click here to listen to some sample songs.

Michael Gibbs & The NDR Bigband – In My View (Cuneiform): Two weeks ago, we reviewed a disc on which Gibbs and company teamed with guitarist Bill Frisell to record big band versions of his songs. This time around, we have four original compositions by arranger/conductor Gibbs and five compositions from jazz masters like Carla Bley, Ron Carter, Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman arranged by Gibbs. The band features Thorsten Benkenstein, Ingolf Burkhardt, Claus Stotter, Reiner Winterschladen and Claas Uberschaer (trumpet, flugelhorn); Fiete Felsch, Peter Bolte, Christo Lauer, Lutz Buchner, and Franks Delle (various reeds – saxes, clarinet, flutes); Dan Gottshall, Klaus Heidenreich, Stefan Lottermann, Ingo Lahme, Sebastian Hoffman and Robert Hedemann (trombones, tuba); and Sandra Hempel (guitar), Vladislav Sendecki or Boris Netsvetaev (piano), Ingmar Heller (bass) and Adam Nussbaum, Gene Calderazzo, or Marcio Doctor (drums, percussion). These are masterful arrangements and performances. There are wonderful offerings here for fans who love big band sounds or those who want to check out a form less prevalent these days.  Click here for a sample from this disc.

Darius Jones Quartet – Le bebe de Brigitte (AUM Fidelity): Now located in NYC, alto saxophonist Jones studied and graduated from the Jazz Studies program at VCU in 2003 and has since earned a Master’s Degree from NYU in 2008. He has released several discs since his graduation and has garnered a great deal of recognition as a daring and unique jazz artist. This disc finds him in a quartet with Matt Mitchell (keys), Sean Conley (bass), and Emilie Lesbros (voice, piano). All of the compositions here are the result of his collaboration with Ms Lesbos, who is herself an inventive lyricist and vocalist. The disc is somewhat like a tone poem with its sonic shifts. The lyrics shift between French and English giving an interesting dynamic as well. The performance could be outside of the taste of mainstreamers, but it is rather infectious for those whose tastes are more flexible. It is not fully mainstream, it doesn’t swing, but it is also not  difficult listening. Jones writes, “Much of the hatred and ugliness in the world comes from everyone trying to create a unison when they should be striving to create a harmony. In the process of creating this music, we often fell into moments of miscommunication because of differences in culture and language. I think this created a sense of mystery, and forced all of us to listen more deeply to each other’s nuances and subtleties, because we didn’t always have words to fall back on.”  Click here to listen to a samples from the disc.

London – Meader – Pramuk & Ross – The Royal Bopsters Project (Motema): Here’s some bebop and vocalese just hip to the tip and even a touch of scat, so how about that? This disc began as tribute to the great vocalese artists of what probably seems like “once-upon-a-time” land. What happened was that “once-upon-a-time” land became NOW. Soprano Amy London, alto Alli Ross, tenor Damon Meader and bass Dylan Pramuk came together for the project, which eventually became a jam session with original “Royal Bopsters” (Mark Murphy, Jon Hendricks, Sheila Jordan, Annie Ross, and Bob Dorough) themselves! Songs range from jazz classcs like Horace Silver’s Señor Blues, Charlie Parker’s Chasin’ The Bird, and Miles Davis’ Boplicity to more recently composed numbers and the singers created lyrics for  instrumental songs they liked. Instrumental musicians include Steve Schmidt (piano), Sean Smith and Cameron Brown (bass), Steve Williams (drums), Steven Kroon (percussion) and Roni Ben-Hur (guitar). In the words of the great Louis Jordan, “If that don’t move you, Jack you’re dead!” If you already dig great vocal harmony and vocalese itself, I suspect you’re already looking for this disc.  Click here to check out some samples from this disc.

Shai Maestro Trio – Untold Stories (Motema): Pianist Shai Maestro is a wonderfully creative musician now releasing his third disc as a leader. The performance, with his bandmates Jorge Roeder (bass) and Ziv Ravitz, is beautiful and intriguing – a unique interaction by the three players. Half live and half studio recordings are so tight tat is is difficult to distinguish one setting from the other. Beautiful, playful, exotic.  Click here for sample songs from this disc.

Wynton Marsalis / Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – Live In Cuba (Blue Engine): “Following President Obama’s easing of travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba, the Cuban Institute of Music invited the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis to come to Havana.
On October 5, 2010, the Orchestra embarked on a weeklong residency at the Mella Theater in Havana. Music Director Carlos Henriquez had meticulously programmed four concerts of material to demonstrate the range and capability of this extraordinary band. The musicians conducted master classes, went to jam sessions and gave impromptu lessons. On their first full day in the city, members of the band went to the Guillermo Tomás Bouffartigue Music Conservatory where they conducted master classes and were treated to a stellar performance by the students. The next night they played their first concert in the Mella Theater, performing (as is their custom) everything from new compositions and arrangements to the classics. The next night, the Orchestra was back in the Mella Theater for the second concert alongside Chucho’s ensemble, The Afro-Cuban Messengers, playing music of the Cuban diaspora. By the night of the final concert, the band had played all over Havana, sowing the seeds of a musical future between Cuba and the United States. The last show was for kids. The packed house was peppered with students from all over the island. They heard Afro-Cuban, jazz and everything in between—a roster of the most promising students performed with the Orchestra in a sweep of jazz compositions that included Lee Morgan’s “Ceora”, Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” and Ray Santos’ “Azulito.” This recording is a compilation of songs chosen from each of these shows. The orchestra was obviously inspired by the experience of reconnecting with their extended family from the deep, deep south.” (Copied from the liner notes)  This collection is a must for fans of big band and Afro-Cuban / American jazz. Click here to listen to samples from this collection.

Josh Maxey – Celebration of Soul (Miles High): This recording is the tenth and final disc in a series of ten collections of original recordings by this fine guitarist in the past three years. Maxey is a fluid and melodic player whose solos flow with grace and whose fills blend beautifully with the group or current soloist’s lead. In addition to Maxey, the players include Brian Charette (organ), Chase Baird (sax), and Jeremy Noller (sax), with guests teacher / mentor Rodney Jones (guitar), David Parnell (acoustic guitar, lap steel), and Michael Cioffero (guitar). The sound is modern yet firmly rooted in the classic swing and flow of the late 50s and 60s. Baird’s sax has great flow as well and is also a highlight of this disc. Click here to sample this disc.

William Parker – For Those Who Are, Still (AUM Fidelity): Here’s a major release from avant composer and bassman William Parker: a three disc compilation of original compositions, with each disc containing a complete composition and, when listened to in collection order, each disc performance by an increasingly large and complex group of musicians.  Each disc is named for a specific work: “For Fannie Lou Hamer + Vermeer”; “Red Giraffe With Dreadlocks”; and “Ceremonies For Those Who Still”. Disc 1 features a Parker composition (“For Fannie Lou Hamer) with Leena Conquest on vocals and a 10 piece woodwind, brass and rhythm group and  Parker on bass and hocchiku (bamboo flute),  Darryl Foster (soprano, tenor sax), Eri Yamamoto (piano) and Leena Conquest (vocal) on the remainder of the disc (“Vermeer”). The opener is the more challenging piece. Disc 2 offers an Eastern / far Eastern blend of instruments and vocals on six Parker compositions. Featured musicians in addition to Parker on bass are Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay (vocal, electronic shruti box), Mola Sylla (vocal, m’bira, ngoni), Bill Cole (double reeds), Klaas Hekman (bass sax, flute), Cooper Moore (piano) and Hamid Drake (drums). The final disc presents the combination of orchestra and jazz ensemble or classical and jazz as a means to approach a musical center. Neither style dominates the other. In Parker’s words, “We don’t invent sounds, we are allowed to encounter them; we don’t own them….” His trilogy pays respect to the natural beauty of sound regardless of the musical or cultural heritage it honors. All sound has a place. So, this journey is not for the faint of heart. It dares to invade the touch point between composition and improvisation. It is a challenging journey that can delight and repel individual listeners at the same time.  Click here for an interview with William Parker. It does include some music, but I was unable to find a sample from the current disc.  

Juli Wood Quartet – Synkka Metsa (Dark Forest) (OA2): Tenor saxophonist Juli Wood leads her quartet in transforming eight Finnish folk songs into jazz pieces. The songs are somewhat mellow but swing well and draw the listener into the wonderful melodies which recall the most wonderful aspects of the cool jazz era. Wood is supported by Alejandro Urzagaste (guitar), Clark Sommers (bass), and Mike Schlick (drums) on this splendid set. Cool, swinging, and fresh! Click here to listen to a song from this disc.




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