New Jazz & Blues – 12/21/2021

New Jazz & Blues – 12/21/2021

New Jazz Adds:

Chad Fowler & Christopher Parker – Park Hill Saudade (Mahakala Music): “Growing up in North Little Rock, Arkansas, pianist Christopher Parker and Saxophonist Chad Fowler lived one block away from each other. As teenagers they each immersed themselves in improvised music, only to meet and realize their geographic and creative proximity just before graduating high school and heading off to college. As fate would have it, the two both ended up at the University of Memphis where they continued what would become a multi-decade musical collaboration.
Their combined musical collaborations include the likes of Rufus Reid, Brian Blade, Frank Lowe, Alvin Fielder, Kidd Jordan, Willam Parker, Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, Daniel Carter, Jaimie Branch and many others. Recently, the two have appeared on a number of records in larger formats including Parker’s commissioned No Tears Suite, Nothing But Love, a celebration of the works of Frank Lowe, and their group Dopolarians’ Garden Party (featuring Kidd Jordan and Alvin Fielder) and The Bond (featuring Grammy winning percussionist Brian Blade)…. Two soulful spirits with a creative commonality, from Park Hill, magnetically met after a Count Basie concert. Ironically, they found out that they lived one block from each other. Chad Fowler and Chris Parker shared their love for creative music and began to develop their more than thirty-year friendship. Their music on this recording, Parkhill Saudade, captures the essence of their close friendship and musical bond. Listen to the deep interaction of their phrases, connections, resolutions, dynamics, transitions and the depth of each composition’s musical story with beginnings and endings that flow with a natural pulse from two human heartbeats. The music like their friendship is sensitive, sensational, soaring, serene, soulful, scintillating, subtle and cohesively boundless.” (https://mahakalamusic.bandcamp.com/album/park-hill-saudade) Click here to listen to the music on this release.   

Dayramir Gonzalez – Tributo a Juan Formell & Los VAN VAN (Unicornio): “Dayramir began his professional career as a pianist and composer with former Irakere member, Oscar Valdes’ Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble Diákara at the age of 16. Since winning Havana’s JoJazz festival in 2004 and 2005, Dayramir has gone from winning three Cubadisco awards for his 2007 debut album “Dayramir & Habana enTRANCé” to becoming Berklee College of Music’s first Cuban national “Presidential Scholarship” recipient to performing in 15,000-seat stadiums with legends like Chucho and Bebo Valdes and headlining Carnegie Hall, representing the young generation of Afro-Cuban jazz.” (https://www.groovmarketing.com/projects/dayramir-gonzalez/) Click here to listen to “Tu Decision Cual Es”.

XOn Contemporary: Barney Kessel (Craft Recordings/ Concord): “A guitar virtuoso (October 17, 1923 – May 6, 2004) from Muskogee, Oklahoma, Kessel was one of Contemporary’s busiest artists between 1954 and 1963. He had already recorded with Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Oscar Peterson when he started making his own albums for Koenig. This compilation draws from both his own sessions and his numerous releases with The Poll Winners, a trio with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown with a moniker boasting of their long run topping critics’ polls in Downbeat and Metronome. While Kessel spent decades playing thousands of studio dates as a member of the legendary L.A. studio cadre the Wrecking Crew, he continued to record exceptional albums for Contemporary through the 1980s.” (https://www.udiscovermusic.com/news/craft-recordings-70-years-contemporary-records/)  Click here to listen to samples of this release.

Dennis Mitcheltree – Brooklyn (Dengor Music): “Debut album from jazz saxophonist and composer Dennis Mitcheltree, recorded 1994 and 1995 in New York City. “Jazz saxophonist and composer Dennis Mitcheltree has just released his 5th album as a leader, Nevermind the Circus. Mitcheltree is a mainstay of the tenor saxophone, having been based in New York City from 1987-2007 and in Los Angeles from 2007 to the present.Dennis has performed and recorded with a virtual Who’s Who of the jazz world: Clark Terry, George Cables, Bill Holman, Bob Moses, Jim McNeely, Howard Johnson, Gary Bartz, Kenny Werner, James Williams, Don Sickler, Charli Persip, Pete Yellin along with contemporaries Uri Caine, Ingrid Jensen, Johannes Wallmann, Andy Milne, David Binney, Ben Shepherd, Dan Schnelle and Andy Sanesi. Mitcheltree was born and raised in Wisconsin, picking up the oboe and saxophone at age 12. He received a scholarship from Berklee College of Music where he graduated with a Magna cum Laude degree in Jazz Performance in 1987. He is the Artistic Director for the American Music Group, widely known for the INFLUENCES series presented at Carnegie Hall, and an award-winning saxophonist and composer.” (https://www.dennismitcheltree.com/about.php) Click here to listen to music from this release.

Christopher Parker & Kelley Hurt – No Tears Suite (Oxford American): “In September 1957, 61 years after the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson, in Little Rock, Arkansas, nine Black high school students finally broke through the threshold of Little Rock Central High School after a month of facing protestors and blockades by the Arkansas National Guard. No Tears Suite, composed by Arkansas-native and music teacher Christopher Parker and his wife, jazz vocalist Kelley Hurt was initially written to commemorate and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine’s historic enrollment and their continued courage and fortitude, which has inspired every generation thereafter. When the piece premiered in September 2017, the group of Grammy award-winning drummer Brian Blade, bassist Bill Huntington, trumpeter Marc Franklin , and saxophonists Bobby LaVell (tenor) and Chad Fowler (alto) was so successful in communicating Hurt and Parker’s vision, that the composers began to explore how they could continue to expand the No Tears Suite. This resulted in a new collaboration with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra that premiered in March 2019 in Little Rock. The symphonic release will debut on the same day as the album as a free streaming-only live version. The “No Tears Suite” will have its CD and digital release from the Arkansas-based label Mahakala Music on Friday, Sept. 25. Largely inspired and informed by the memoir Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals, a member of the Little Rock Nine, the music of No Tears Suite reflects the resilience of those students as they ascended the steps of Central High School in 1957 and shifted the course of American history. The tension of inequality and oppression felt by these students is felt on “Roll Call,” as Hurt details the lives of those involved Little Rock Nine and others involved in Arkansas’, and America’s, educational integration over an unsettled and lamenting pool of instrumentation. But ultimately, No Tears Suite emphasizes emotions of power and joy, highlighting the significant progress and lasting brightness the Little Rock Nine brought to Arkansas and the country. “Jubilate” bounces and uplifts, and “Don’t Cry (Warrior’s Song)” struts with a confidence and strength similar to Mingus’ composition on the same subject matter, “Fables of Faubus.”—Hurt sings words of grit and motivation over the soulful swing: “Beaten, bruised, yeah you refused/there are no cowards here.”No Tears Suite never loses sight of the astounding humanity of the nine students that prompted the piece in the first place. In speaking on the development of the music, Parker said, “We just wanted to put the spotlight on those kids… how can anyone not be proud of those kids?” Written by members of the Little Rock community, for the Little Rock-based literary magazine, Oxford American, about a pivotal moment in Little Rock and civil rights history, No Tears Suite is the result of and a testament to a community that believes in celebration, perseverance, and growth, and serves as an enduring reminder of the progress made and the progress still required.” (https://christopherparkerkellyhurt.bandcamp.com/) Click here to listen to the music on this wonderful work. 

Christopher Parker & The Band Of Guardian Angels – Soul Food (Mahakala Music): “Soul Food is pianist Christopher Parker’s debut album, but that doesn’t mean he’s a rookie. He’s spent 30 years being a sideman for many live bands and has only recently gotten around to forming his own little group. And what a group it is. Calling themselves the Band of Guardian Angels, there is Parker’s wife Kelley Hurt on vocals, Daniel Carter on saxophone, flute, and trumpet, Jamie Branch on trumpet, William Parker on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums. “I picked the players I did on purpose,” explains Christopher Parker in the liner notes, though he hardly needs to justify himself. When you have the connections to make a supergroup happen, why wouldn’t you use them? That doesn’t make Soul Food an easy listen. If you are unaccustomed to free jazz, then your ear could use a little stretching before pressing play. The moment “Guardian Angels” begins, it’s as though you’ve opened the door to a free jam session already in progress. As Cleaver rolls over his snare and William Parker saws away with his bow, Christopher Parker is playing an impossibly intricate melody that, against all odds, repeats itself to demonstrate its deliberate nature (just like Cecil Taylor). With only three instruments playing in the first few seconds, a storm has already brewed. When Hurt’s vocals make an entrance, it’s clear that her voice serves as another instrument alongside Carter and Branch rather than a vehicle for lyrics. Her sustained moans make for a good match with the flute and trumpet, seeing as how none of them are going crazy like the rhythm section still is. Christopher Parker and one of the trumpets then lock into a contrary motion that lets him perform rapidly ascending trills. One trumpet solos with a mute and the other one without, creating an eye for the storm…. Soul Food is an impressive if not totally compelling album. There was a lot of freedom and excitement that went into making it, and there is a chance they might be lost on some listeners who prefer to have their jazz take a more conventional shape. On a technical level, it’s impressive that jazz this free can be played with so much restraint. Christopher Parker hammers away most of the time, but it’s Carter, Branch, and especially Hurt who have perfected the art of playing it close to the chest while dishing it out at high energy. That is the main takeaway here. Aside from that, Soul Food is a stepping stone for Christopher Parker in finding his voice as a bandleader.” (https://www.popmatters.com/christopher-parker-soul-food-review) Click here to listen to “Soul Food”.

XArt Pepper – On Contemporary: Art Pepper (Craf/Concord): “In the aftermath of Charlie Parker, no alto saxophonist blazed a more brilliant alternative path than Pepper (September 1, 1925 – June 15, 1982), who forged a lyrical detour bypassing bebop despite his love of Bird. The L.A. native poured his tormented soul into his horn, recording a series of classic albums between stints in prison due to his addiction to heroin. His Contemporary sessions rank among his very best work, and this anthology includes choice pieces from his 1957 encounter with Miles Davis’ sidemen on Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, the scorching 1960 album Smack Up through his triumphant 1977 run at the Village Vanguard with George Cables, Elvin Jones and George Mraz, represented here with a sublime version of “Over the Rainbow.” https://www.udiscovermusic.com/news/craft-recordings-70-years-contemporary-records/ Click here to listen to samples from this release. 

XOn Contemporary: Barney Kessel (digital release only): “A guitar virtuoso (October 17, 1923 – May 6, 2004) from Muskogee, Oklahoma, Kessel was one of Contemporary’s busiest artists between 1954 and 1963. He had already recorded with Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Oscar Peterson when he started making his own albums for Koenig. This compilation draws from both his own sessions and his numerous releases with The Poll Winners, a trio with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown with a moniker boasting of their long run topping critics’ polls in Downbeat and Metronome. While Kessel spent decades playing thousands of studio dates as a member of the legendary L.A. studio cadre the Wrecking Crew, he continued to record exceptional albums for Contemporary through the 1980s.” Click here to listen to a song from this release.

XJorge Rossy – Puerta (digital release only): “Jorge Rossy is best known, of course, as a drummer, notably with Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden, but since 2000 he has also worked and recorded as a pianist. For his ECM debut as leader – but not for the first time on record – he has turned to the vibraphone and marimba, handing over the drum stool to Jeff Ballard. Robert Landfermann completes the trio on bass. For this set of original compositions – excepting Cargois, written by Chris Cheek – he wanted to “leave lots of space for the instruments to breathe and unfold by playing fewer, essential notes” and to place each instrument on an equal footing, each sharing the spotlight to the same degree. In forming this trio, Jossy knew that he needed three soloists, not just a rhythm section, for the set to be a completely balanced affair.” (https://jazzjournal.co.uk/2021/12/19/jorge-rossy-robert-landfermann-jeff-ballard-puerta/) Beautiful work. Click here to listen to a sample song.

Soul Cafe – Step Aside (Autumn Hill): “I sincerely appreciate all of the superbly talented musicians who made this project possible. It has been a great pleasure to work with some of St. Louis’s finest players. I would like to graciously thank Mike and Rob Silverman at Autumn Hill Records for their collaborative support.” (Ed Starrett) The band members are Ed Starrett (Guitar), Jason Swagler (Saxophone), Jerry Scruggs (Keyboards/Organ), Tim Quarells (Drums), Bud Quarells (Bass) and Donald Williams (Percussion).” Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.

New Blues:

XGov’t Mule – Heavy Load Blues (Fantasy): “Heavy Load Blues, featuring the first original track off the forthcoming collection, “Heavy Load,” is the first-ever blues album by renowned quartet Gov’t Mule – led by GRAMMY® Award-winning vocalist, songwriter, guitar legend, and producer Warren Haynes…. Though technically considered a studio album, Heavy Load Blues was recorded live in the studio at The Power Station New England on analog tape, utilizing vintage guitars, amps and other equipment to capture an authentic sound. The 13-track album was produced by Haynes alongside engineer and co-producer John Paterno…. One of the many standout tracks is the Junior Wells standard “Snatch It Back and Hold It,” which allowed the band to freely cover a classic while sandwiching a spontaneous jam called “Hold It Back” in the middle of a soulful, stirring interpretation that was given a decidedly funky groove. In that regard, while several titles may sound familiar to blues enthusiasts, the band – Haynes, Matt Abts [drums], Danny Louis [keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals], and Jorgen Carlsson [bass] – often opted to put its own spin on them. Gov’t Mule, who are known for pushing the parameters while melding a variety of genres — rock, R&B, jam, funk, jazz, and practically everything in-between, opted for a heavy, up-tempo and funky version that is a far cry from the original.” Click here for samples.

The Old No. 5’s – Moment To Lose (Self-produced): “Kansas City’s The Old No. 5s released their third record today, “Moment to Lose”, opting for a Tuesday release like the rockers of yesteryear. The sounds of the record travel between raw blues and psychedelic sounds, but the band always seems to find their way back home to that pure, timeless rock and roll sound. The Old No. 5s are Brock Alexander (vocals, guitar, keys), Olie Bowden (bass, guitar, vocals), and Adam Watson (percussion, vocals)– all three of which have songwriting credits on the album. Listen up for help from several local hired guns on the album as well. Taylor Smith and Howard Mahan were enlisted for some guitar work and TJ Erhardt tickling some ivories. Recorded at Weights and Measures Soundlab, this is a Kansas City project through and through….The record starts off with a slow, beautiful blues instrumental called “We’re Here” that grabs your attention and sets the tone for the record… If you’ve seen the band live, you know the chemistry they have and that’s apparent in these songs. Watson fills the space between the first and second songs and Alexander pulls us out of the mix with his guitar.” (https://westportsaloon.com/old-no-5s-moment-to-lose-westport-saloon/) There is a straight ahead attitude as the group shifts styles throughout the set. Click here to listen to the songs on this set.

Kopesetically,

Professor Bebop

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