New Jazz & Blues: 11/1/2022
David Bandrowski & the Rhumba Defense: French Onion Superman (David Bandrowski): “French Onion Superman marks the debut recording as a leader for longtime New Orleans musician David Bandrowski. The concept was simple: using a traditional jazz lineup of three horns, drums, bass, and banjo – cultivate the fire that drives all great New Orleans music – minus the constraints “traditional” music can often give while retaining an authentic New Orleans sound.”
Owen Broder HODGES: Front and Center, Vol.1: “If more [tribute concerts] were idiosyncratic labors of love like alto saxophonist Owen Broder’s “Hodges: Front & Center,” well, the scene would be a whole lot more fun.” — Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Classical Voice.
Owen Broder’s “Hodges: Front & Center” honors Johnny Hodges, the lead alto saxophonist of the Duke Ellington Jazz Orchestra, as a band leader in his own right. Originally conceived to celebrate the 60th anniversary of albums Back to Back and Side by Side, the expanded program presents repertoire from Hodges’ collaborations with Ben Webster, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, and of course Duke Ellington, integrated with historical and biographical background on the iconic saxophonist. With appearances in D.C., Chicago, Denver, San Jose, and San Francisco, the group has featured Riley Mulherkar, Alex Brown, Alex Wintz, Ike Sturm, Anthony Pinciotti, Hugh Ragin, and Ken Walker, among others. The upcoming release of “Hodges: Front & Center, Vol. 1” (October 14, 2022–Outside In Music) features Riley Mulherkar (trumpet), Carmen Staaf (piano), Barry Stephenson (bass), and Bryan Carter (drums)…. Sample “Take The “A” Train”!
Tito Carrillo: Urbanessence (Origin): “Urbanessence, the second solo album by veteran trumpeter and composer Tito Carrillo, is an homage to the funky beauty and unique energy of city life—where profound human connections are established daily with those who look and speak differently from one another, and where the art, language and delicacies from every tribe are celebrated. Cities are home to the creators, the visionaries, and the innovators, who marshal armies of people motivated by the hope they provide and the vision they impart. For the artists themselves, the city is their playground. With saxophonist Troy Roberts, pianist Ben Lewis, bassist Clark Sommers, drummer Jay Sawyer, and percussionist Victor Gonzalez, Carrillo channels and celebrates the black music traditions from the three Americas through this set of 10 original compositions.” Click here to listen pieces of two songs.
Duduka Da Fonseca & Quarteto To Universal: “Yes!!!” (Sunnyside): “In 2021 after enjoying a Central Park concert, drummer Duduka Da Fonseca met bassist Gili Lopes and guitarist Vinicius Gomes, both of whom said that they wanted very much to play music with him. Da Fonseca felt flattered and suggested putting together a quartet that also included pianist Helio Alves, and Quarteto Universal was born.Throughout his career, Duduka Da Fonseca has been one of the leaders in performing music that mixed together Jazz with Brazilian rhythms, featuring the most rewarding aspects of both genres. In Gomes, Lopes, and Alves he has found kindred spirits, resulting in the first recording by the group, YES!!!YES!!! features Duduka Da Fonseca and Quarteto Universal performing music that is boundary pushing, while deeply in touch with their Brazilian heritage. It is an exciting beginning for the Brazilian Jazz super band.”
Eric Jacobson: Discover (Origin): “Eric is the real deal! A truly world class jazz trumpeter…strong, assured technique, a hip dark sound on the trumpet, and expressive without gimmicks. (Brian Lynch) With a collaborative history going back almost a decade, Milwaukee-based trumpeter Eric Jacobson looked to his friends in Chicago to form the core of his quintet for Discover. Harmonically, rhythmically and soulfully in sync, saxophonist Geof Bradfield, bassist Dennis Carroll, drummer George Fludas, along with the supremely supportive NY pianist Bruce Barth, provide an inspired environment for Jacobson’s journey through four new compositions, interspersed with timeless standards. Delightfully intuitive, sympathetic and always swinging, Jacobson’s quintet delivers an intriguing set of musical discoveries.” Click here to listen to some samples.
Jason Marshall: New Beginnings (Cellar Music): “Jason Marshall’s 2003 arrival in New York City signified the continuation of hard-swinging, forward-thinking baritone saxophone playing. Jason has developed a style that encompasses the whole of African-American music. Years of dedication and perseverance have resulted in a giant, soulful sound and instantly appealing concept. Influences such as Leo Parker, Nick Brignola and Bruce Johnstone have coalesced to ensure an open perception of the baritone sax and ‘take no prisoners’ approach to playing jazz music.” Click here to listen to “Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey!! from this song set.
Jonathan Mills: No Mentions, No Worries (Jonathan Mills): “Composer/Arranger/Drummer Jonathan Mills is currently based in Atlanta where he enjoys a busy performance schedule with touring artists and some of the best in the region. Jonathan has performed with George Cables, Grace Kelly, Brandon Boone (Tedeschi Trucks Band), Greg Abate, Harold Betters (Louis Armstrong, Slide Hampton, Ray Charles), Ashleigh Smith (Sarah Vaughn International Vocal Competition winner), Dave Frackenpohl (GSU), Kevin Bales, and Luke Weathington (KSU). As a sideman, Jonathan has played at Rockwood Music Hall NYC, Musikfest PA, The Atlanta Film Festival, Churchill Grounds Jazz Cafe, Spivey Hall, Paris, Fete de la Musique in Toulouse, and many other stages up and down the East Coast. No Mentions, No Worries is Jonathan’s debut full-length album blending his interests in the jazz tradition and its’ contemporary branches, designed as a collection of moods and thought journeys though life in today’s America.” Click here to listen to “No Mentions, No Worries”.
Abel Mireles – Animo (Sunnyside): “Mexican-American saxophonist Abel Mireles is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the most promising saxophonists of his generation in the New Jersey and New York area. He has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as an arranger, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Mexican American Folkloric Music, and Jazz. A graduate of the esteemed jazz programs of the University of Texas at El Paso (undergraduate) and William Paterson University where he received his Master’s degree in Jazz Performance. Abel had the opportunity to study with jazz legendary pianists and Grammy award-winning directors of the program such as Bill Charlap, Cecil Bridgewater, James Weidman, and Armen Donelian. Along with some of his mentors and saxophonists Rich Perry, and Vincent Herring.” Click here to share a part of “Animo” from a Gonzalo original.
Marc Mommaas – The Impressionist (Sunnyside): “Dutch saxophonist Marc Mommaas, who has been based in New York since 1997, records regularly for the Sunnyside label with small drum-less ensembles. For his latest album, The Impressionist, he drew inspiration from the music of 20th-century French composer Gabriel Fauré (an icon of impressionism in music) as well as the New York pandemic times. Enlisting the talents of keyboardist Gary Versace, guitarist Nate Radley and bassist Jay Anderson, Mommaas outlined the eight tracks on the album with a quiet, floaty quality that comes to terms with his own feelings during difficult times. Although more conceptual than some of his previous works, I experienced dilemmas while trying to relate with complexions that, favoring more order than chaos, needed some more stimulation.”
“The highlights of the album, “Nostalgia” and “Float Away”, are stamped with emotionally induced saxophone solos. Launching the album, the former piece develops soulfully and plaintively with Mommaas and Anderson in melodic consonance, while Radley and Versace successfully avoid messing up the space when it comes to comping. There’a also silvery elucidation from Anderson here in a statement filled with lyricism. The latter piece, instead, besides the nice unison melody designed by soprano sax and piano, lives from fluid improvisations. The title track pretty much flows in the same vein of the opening tune, featuring the flickering, tremolo-steeped synth-like guitar of Radley throughout. The theme is not as impressive though as the comparable piece I just specified. “C’est La Vie”, a tune about contemplation and acceptance, arrives with understated and emotive detail in the call-and-response between guitar and piano, shifting to triple meter in its denouement. Dedicated to the one who inspired him for this work, Mommaas made “Fauré” unequivocally classical, enhancing the gallantry in the harmony for a chamber music mood. The last two tracks attempt something different. “Free Above All” explores more freely, employing distorted guitar swells and featuring the saxophonist in a soprano monologue turned interlocution with the arrival of the pianist. “Moving On” brings the album to a close with the optimism of a soothing pop song. The placid temper of the majority of the songs results in a mix of dreamy and pale atmospheres. There’s definitely strong interplay among these great musicians, but a wide-ranging perspective would have given the album a more imposing character.” (From Jazztrail – https://jazztrail.net/blog/marc-mommaas-the-impressionist-album-review) Click here to listen to “The Impressionist”.
Sam Taylor – Let Go (Cellar Music): “Harlem based saxophonist and Philadelphia native, Sam Taylor presents his third release for Cellar Live, featuring trumpet master Terell Stafford. Recorded at Van Gelder Studios in January of 2022, a time when much of what we believed in as a society was being redefined and reimagined, Taylor chose to invite his musical elders to join him on a journey of generosity and letting go. Surrendering to the music he loves, interpreting the songs and sharing with others, LET GO remains true to Sam Taylor’s musical values. There is an emphasis on mentorship and tradition, as Terell Stafford was a childhood hero of the young saxophonist while in Philadelphia. Joined by Jeb Patton (piano), Neal Miner (bass) and Willie Jones III (drums), Taylor and Stafford joyfully perform a collection of songs by the great Barry Harris, Benny Golson, and Coleman Hawkins, along with interpretations of rarely played standards from the American Songbook. The title track, LET GO, is an original by Taylor, his first to be recorded. The quintet swings hard and with purpose, honoring the spirit of those who came before, with a clear message: Music is an act of giving. Let go.” Click this set for short sets of pieces rather than full pieces but you will want the full meal!
Spike Wilner Trio – Plays Monk & Ellington (Cellar Music): “Pianist Spike Wilner and his trio chose to pay respect to two of the giant fathers of modern music: Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington! They both have a unique compositional style that lends perfectly for ALL musicians to digest and then interpret with their own voice. Features the all star rhythm tandem of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Joe Farnsworth and recorded at GB’s Juke Joint in Long Island City, New York on January 11, 2022.” Wonderful! Click here to listen to each performance.
Searching in Grenoble : The 1978 Solo Piano Concert (digital only): “Searching In Grenoble: The 1978 Solo Piano Concert is a previously unissued recording of jazz icon Mal Waldron’s mesmerizing performance at the “Five Days of Jazz” series in Grenoble, France on March 23, 1978. Waldron was Billie Holiday’s final accompanist, played on classic sessions with John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Jackie McLean among others, and recorded dozens of solo albums as a leader before his passing in 2002.
Originally produced by the legendary André Francís and transferred from the original Radio France tapes, this is the first official release of this music in cooperation with the Mal Waldron Estate and Ina (The Institut national de l’audiovisuel). The beautifully designed, deluxe 2-CD set includes photos by K. Abe, Brian McMillen and Raymond Ross; an extensive 24-page booklet with a heartfelt statement by Mal’s daughter Mala Waldron, plus essays by producer/”Jazz Detective” Zev Feldman, journalist Adam Shatz and Ina’s Pascal Rozat; and interviews with modern jazz piano luminaries Ran Blake and Matthew Shipp. Searching In Grenoble features classic Waldron originals such as “Soul Eyes” and “All Alone,” and jazz standards “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “It Could Happen to You” and “I Thought About You.”(Adam Schatz)
Kurt Crandall – Starts On The Stops (YesterYear): We have just received a hard copy of this release, allowing to play from the disc or electronically.
Andre Bisson – The Battle Of Lucy Stone (Andre Bisson): “As the sole songwriter and arranger for a group that spans from 6-20 musicians, André has created his own musical brand infused with soul, roots, blues, and R&B. Using an eclectic combination of instruments, he creates a musical story that becomes the soundtrack for his lyrics. From a small town in Northern Ontario to lively crowds across England and Wales, André Bisson has proved that he has a message worth listening to. With a career that spans over 20 years, his musical resume includes 9 studio albums, countless awards, and sold out shows across Canada, US, UK, and Europe. As the sole songwriter and arranger for a group that spans from 6-20 musicians, André has created his own musical brand infused with soul, roots, blues, and R&B. Using an eclectic combination of instruments, he creates a musical story that becomes the soundtrack for his lyrics. Since first taking to the stage at age 15, André’s love and dedication has always been to the live show. Combining his powerhouse vocals with a group of world class musicians, André makes it a priority to always give the audience an exciting, intense, and memorable musical experience. The connection between the musicians, the song, and the audience is always the ultimate goal.
Throughout the years, André’s style and philosophy towards music has attracted attention in the music community. Since his first album release in 2009, Andre has gained notoriety with awards such as “Male Vocalist of the Year” – Hamilton Blues Awards, “Song of the Year” – Blues and Roots Radio, and a four time nominee at the Hamilton Arts Awards. André was also selected by the Grand River Blues Society to compete at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. With a dedication to the live show and a sound that is constantly growing and evolving, each performance is unique in its own way. It is these qualities that keep the audience engaged, excited and returning time and time again.” Listen to Bisson perform “Missin’ You”.
Grant Dermody – Behind The Sun: “This is Grant Dermody’s 5th solo LP. Basically, a Louisiana blues collection with splashes of zydeco, Mississippi-Chicago-blues & gospel. It’s recorded pristinely & accessible even to people who are not blues aficionados. The musicians are all Louisiana-based & they deliciously articulate each performance without compromising the raw contours, edgy spirited roots of the genre. It isn’t juke joint bruised, primitive, or overly dramatic. The late Paul Butterfield would’ve approved. Grant Dermody’s harmonica resonates in his fashion. At the same time, despite how good the artists in England interpret the blues, they don’t absorb the “land” atmosphere & mood in the dirt. That’s what’s lacking. Most foreign blues interpreters succeed with their own degree of comfort but not with the accentuation of the “land” – John Mayall, Graham Bond, Long John Baldry, Duster Bennett types & the California entity like Al Wilson’s Canned Heat. All credible as blues entertainers — but not ideal as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, or even Paul Butterfield. But Grant (co-producer) could ignite a slow night at a juke joint with his 15-cut Behind the Sun (Drops Oct 21–Independent). This 50-minute LP finds Grant’s voice with a profusion of “striking low down” the blues guitar notes spray everywhere. If the blues guitar can wail & burn & the singer has a thin unexpressive voice – it’s not going to work. Grant’s does. His original “Forgive Me,” & Otis Rush’s “So Many Roads,” perk like an old pot of java on a black iron stove. Love songs need sincerity, rock songs need energy, but the blues need to seethe as they negotiate the lonely backroads of vulnerability, melancholy & life while watching how long that white ash on the end of Pop’s cheap cigar will hold on. Holding on is the root of most blues. To love, your sanity & or your life. Grant’s harmonica has a Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) melodic tang. What’s important is that the music isn’t embellished by trickery, half-baked ideas, or bombastic turns. There’s an innate elegance to Grant’s showcase. The tonality is mature, not gritty but instinctively filled with substance — each tune dazzles & not sound like the expiration date passed. Dermody has surely remembered us of the great days. Here is the beauty of the days when all turned our style and respect.
Ben Levin – Take Your Time (VizzTone): “With the help of the legendary guest artists, this album features the heaviest blues I’ve ever recorded in the studio. Cincinnati-based blues pianist/singer Ben Levin is a blues veteran at the age of 23. His three previous albums on the VizzTone label group have garnered him accolades including Blues Music Award and Blues Blast Music Award nominations for Debut Album of the Year, Sean Costello Rising Star Award, and Keyboard Player of the Year…. Ever since starting piano lessons at age 7, Ben has looked to his musical elders for guidance, and for this album, he decided to shift the spotlight away from himself and highlight some living legends of blues: 92-year-old bassist/vocalist Bob Stroger, Chicago blues legend Lil’ Ed, and Louisiana bluesman Lil’ Jimmy Reed.” Here is a great example.
I’ll Carry You Home – The Mighty Soul Drivers (Hog Heaven Records): “The Mighty Soul Drivers second album features seven new original tunes along with four carefully chosen covers. “On ‘I’ll Carry You Home’, New England’s Mighty Soul Drivers deliver the real, deep soul thang. Robert Orsi’s vocals cut to the bone — and go straight to the heart. On a series of finely-chosen covers and finely-tuned originals, they weave a spell that is Southern/Urban with just the right touch of voodoo and grit.” — Christine Ohlman, Saturday Night Live Band vocalist and noted musicologist. “The new release by The Mighty Soul Drivers is a groove lover’s dream! The Drivers’ smooth and silky vocals ride a deep pocket that carries these songs from start to finish like my ’71 Buick Riviera used to float me down the road. Well done!” –Tas Cru, 2018 BMA nominee, 2021 Blues Blast Awards and Independent Blues Awards nominee. Click here to listen to this solid groovin’ music.
Kopestically, Professor Bebop