New Jazz & Blues News – 11/2/2021

New Jazz & Blues News – 11/2/2021

New Jazz News:

Ben Allison – Moments Inside (Self-produced): “Celebrating the release of “Moments Inside,” genre bending bassist and composer Ben Allison leads a new ensemble through seven new tunes and a re-working of a Herbie Nichols classic. The players are Ben Allison (bass), Chico Pinheiro (guitar), Steve Cardenas (guitar) and Allan Mednard (drums).” (Liner notes) “…. “On his 14th album bassist, composer, producer Ben Allison moves the dial once again with a lithe quartet featuring two of the leading guitarists on the New York City scene, Chico Pinheiro and Steve Cardenas, along with himself on bass and in-demand drummer Allan Mednard. The band chemistry is apparent from the opening cut. The 7 new Ben Allison originals sparkle with lyrical beauty and rhythmic intrigue. Says Ben, ““As I sat quietly writing the music for this album, letting the ideas come to me, picking up on threads and seeing where they lead, I was expecting the music to echo the pain, anger, and sorrow that was all around. I was surprised to find that it didn’t. The music that emerged was optimistic and peaceful. Now that I think about it, I wasn’t writing what I was feeling. Instead, I was writing what I needed.” (https://www.amazon.com/Moments-Inside-Ben-Allison/dp/B09HKY5VHB) No samples available yet, but we’ll be able to share on the air soon!

Anat Cohen & Marcello Goncalves – Reconvexo (Anzic): “Ever charismatic, prolific and inspired, Grammy-nominated clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. As The Wall Street Journal says, “What’s not to love about a young clarinetist and saxophonist who plays everything we love – modern jazz, world music, “hot” New Orleans style jazz – and does it all brilliantly?” The perennial winner of “Clarinetist of the Year” titles from DownBeat, JazzTimes, and the Jazz Journalists Association, Fresh Air’s Terry Gross credits Cohen with “bringing the clarinet to the world” and The New York Times hails her a “Master.” (http://www.imnworld.com/artists/detail/113/Anat-Cohen) “Anat does what all authentic musicians do: She tells stories from her own experiences that are so deeply felt that they are very likely to connect listeners to their own dreams, desires and longings.” (Nat Hentoff, https://www.anatcohen.com/biography) Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.

Alexis Cole – Sky Blossom: Songs From My Tour Of Duty (Zoho): “Alexis Cole is an award-winning jazz vocalist and maybe the most talented jazz singer to ever hold a top-secret military clearance. Her critically acclaimed career with a dozen albums as a leader may also be the best-kept secret in jazz. Cole is releasing a new project that is certain to change that as jazz fans and beyond will have a pleasant surprise when they discover this chanteuse for themselves. The album is called Sky Blossom, which is a military term for an opening parachute. The title is a nod to Cole’s military service and her credo of jumping into the unknown with faith. The album also marks the vocalist debut album for the ZOHO record label. The New York-based singer performs swinging big band classics from her time as the vocalist for the West Point Band’s Jazz Knights, including songs by the Gershwins, Lennon/McCartney, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, A.C. Jobim, Billy Joel, and others. The be-bop melody of “Joy Spring” opens the set with the big band setting the mood for Cole’s warm swinging voice. Cole does an excellent job singing the melody with embellishments, accuracy, and she conveys joy in her tone. Cole’s scatting is spot-on with both harmonic and melodic relationships and swing articulation. An outstanding saxophone soli follows, with Cole singing right alongside the dexterous reeds. John Castleman performs a beautiful trumpet solo, as the rhythm section swings hard and well-written backgrounds add color. Finally, Cole and Castleman trade with the big band for a stirring display of writing, playing, and singing.” (https://jazzsensibilities.com/reviews/alexis-cole-sky-blossom/) Everyone is dazzlingly sharp and together! I regret that I am unable to attach a sample from this disc.

Daggerboard – Last Days Of Studio A (Wide Hive): “10 new songs from Throttle Elevator Music with Kamasi Washington members Erik Jekabson and Gregory Howe. Taking off from Throttle’s Final Floor released in 2020, “Daggerboard Last Days of Studio A” lands closer to a main vein of Jazz. The album includes many of the same players as “Throttle Elevator Music featuring Kamasi Washington”: Mike Hughes on drums, Mike Blankenship on keys and featuring Roger Glenn on vibes (Donald Byrd) and Kasey Knudsen on saxophone. Recorded at Fantasy Studios Studio A one week before it closed, the music has a dreamy landscaped that wanders down eerie back streets.” (https://www.widehive.com/discography/daggerboardlastdaysstudio) I regret I am unable to find a sample from this release.

Gordon Grdina’s Square Peg – Klotski (AttaBoyGirl): “The prolific Vancouver-based guitarist, composer, improviser, and master oud player Gordon Grdina has long been tireless in his pursuit of new possibilities and partnerships for his expansive musical imagination. Seeking a new outlet that can keep pace with his ever-expanding roster of ongoing projects and new collaborations, Grdina has announced the launch of Attaboygirl Records. The endeavor is being undertaken in collaboration with his partner, photographer Genevieve Monro, who will curate the distinctive visual style of the label…. Klotski, meanwhile, marks the studio debut of Gordon Grdina’s Square Peg, an exploratory quartet featuring Grdina on guitar and oud, Mat Maneri on viola, Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Moog, and Christian Lillinger on drums…. “I seem to be putting out more music than other labels can handle,” jokes Grdina about the new effort. “The label is a project that Genevieve and I have wanted to take on for a while now. It allows us to release projects when we want and to create a cohesive visual style for these disparate releases.” The label’s name stems from a favorite saying of Monro’s late father, serving as a personal dedication while alluding to the two partners at the helm. “It’s also a positive, encouraging sentiment,” Grdina adds, “which is important when taking on something new like this.” Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

Karen Marguth – Until (OA2): “Her music is the work of a singer with a swift, light voice and the mobility and diction to roll like a Zephyr. She swings fiercely and scats with a proper abandon.” (DownBeat Magazine) “Based in the East Bay, vocalist Karen Marguth found her calling in jazz while living in Fresno, CA through the early 2000s. California’s Central Valley sustains a surprisingly thriving jazz community and it was there that Marguth earned national renown with her four jazz albums, featuring the tight circle of musicians she surrounded herself with. Until features her interaction with two Fresno groups, along with a third, representing her latest collaborators from the Bay Area. Though presenting three distinct ensembles on an array of material recorded over the last decade, the album is remarkably cohesive and brimming with emotional generosity. From the strutting arrangement of “Comes Love,” to the shimmering title tune from Paul Simon’s 1983 release, “Hearts & Bones,” or the closing, intimate duo rendition of “Days of Wine & Roses,” Marguth shows an uncanny ability to mine hidden gems that others miss, while creating a warm & creative environment for her bandmates to thrive in. An artist who’s still stretching her wings, she adds another consistently captivating chapter to her discography with Until.” Click here to listen to two songs on this release.  

John Moulder – Metamorphosis (Origin): “With Metamorphosis, the soaring Chicago guitarist presents a new set of melodically rich compositions, exquisitely brought to life by the towering talents of pianist Richie Beirach, bassist Steve Rodby and drummer Paul Wertico. Their distinctive musical voices coalesce with Moulder’s explorations of personal, cultural and spiritual transformations to create music that is as electrifying as it is beautiful. From the expansive, hard-charging “Game Changer” to the wide-open spaces of the “Metamorphosis Suite,” the band covers vast musical territories, offering a celebration of color, atmosphere, and constant surprise. “Mr. Moulder continues to sculpt his long-limbed lines as he makes the black dots leap off the page and come alive, as if voiced in splendour with aria-like colour and dynamics on an album of music to die for…” (Raul da Gama) ” …the sound is tremendous, as are the performances…To these ears, (Moulder’s aesthetic) is probing and kaleidoscopic. (JAZZTIMES) Click here for short cuts of two songs on this disc.   

Negroni’s Trio – Esperanzas / Hopes (Sony Music): “One of the most prolific bands in the modern jazz landscape, the three-time Latin GRAMMY-nominated group Negroni’s Trio has made a point throughout the years to diligently document their music, resulting in a stream of over ten celebrated releases that showcase the broad scope of the group’s strengths and commitment to creating a group aesthetic. Their eleventh release titled, Esperanzas/Hopes is no exception to this tradition of excellence as it is a powerful document of an ensemble at the height of its prowess. According to Nomar Negroni, “this music was recorded with a feeling of compassion for humanity which is why we titled it “Esperanzas.” As a larger goal, the group aims to empower people to be bold in their lives. “We want to remind them of the authenticity in everything one does in life fills your soul with joy.” Complex and beautiful in its diversity, Esperanzas is the latest offering from a seasoned band that functions like a well-oiled machine – one that places a higher premium on group identity and concept over acrobatics and flashiness. A sign of the musical maturity of its members and a breath of fresh air, Esperanzas will surely delight all listeners.” (https://jazzdelapena.com/new-york-report/negronis-trio-releases-esperanzas-hopes/) Click here to listen to the songs on this wonderful performance.

Farnell Newton – Feel The Love (Positone): “Trumpeter and composer Farnell Newton has built his reputation by being a versatile musician. He effortlessly slides between playing jazz, hip hop, and more. When Newton is not teaching or working with youth, he is touring, recording, and performing with Mike Phillips, Jill Scott, Bootsy Collins, Liv Warfield, BET/CENTRIC Soul Train Award All-Star Band and more. Based in Portland, Oregon, Newton regularly performs with Mel Brown, Thara Memory, Bobby Torres, Johnny Polanco, Ricardo Lemvo, and Darrell Grant. Feel The Love is his latest Posi-Tone records release, where he is joined by pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummers Rudy Royston and Joe Strasser. Also on the album are guest appearances by Jaleel Shaw, Braxton Cook, Brandon Wright, Michael Dease, and Patrick Cornelius. Newton wastes no time setting his straight-ahead jazz program into play with the hard bop-inspired title track “Feel the Love” opening the set. On this selection, Newton is joined by the core quartet. The song is a Newton original and is dedicated to one of his professors at Oberlin. The song’s form switches between feels, giving us a chance to hear Newton’s playing style in both swing and straight-eight settings. His time is fluid, and though he has considerable chops, he is not afraid to lay back and let a simple melody build the energy. Hirahara’s piano solo is a highlight too. John Scofield’s “I’ll Catch You” finds the ensemble being augmented by saxophonist Jaleel Shaw. The core quartet sounds tight and in sync. Royston’s groove is buoyant and funky. Newton’s trumpet tone is remarkably centered as he digs into the groove and makes a fascinating improvised statement. Shaw’s snaking line follows, his passion and ideas spurred on by Hirahara’s harmonic motion. Newton has made a great choice in choosing a song that showcases the players’ immense talents. Feel the Love is Newton’s third Posi-Tone release and his strongest to date. Newton’s choice of covers and compositions by himself and one by Hirahara give the ensemble a clear roadmap to express themselves. The album also benefits from the contributions of the four guest saxophonists: Braxton Cook – alto saxophone, Jaleel Shaw – alto saxophone, Brandon Wright – tenor saxophone, and Patrick Cornelius – alto saxophone. Feel the Love will be of interest to straight-ahead jazz fans that also enjoy a few moments of funk and groove. Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

Nicholas Payton – Smoke Sessions (Smoke Sessions Records): “For a young Nicholas Payton, Miles Davis’ 1966 album ‘Four’ & More, captured live two years earlier at Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall, provided a template for what music could – and should – be. Now long established as one of the most renowned musicians and composers on the scene, Payton has convened two of the legendary musicians who played with Davis on that album, bassist Ron Carter and special guest saxophonist George Coleman, to craft some exemplary sounds of his own. With Smoke Sessionsset for release on October 29, 2021 via the label of the same name, Payton finally realizes his long-cherished dream of leading a session with Ron Carter on bass. To reignite the chemistry of the album he’d fallen in love with decades before, he also invited George Coleman to contribute to a pair of tunes. (A third contributor to ‘Four’ & More, pianist Herbie Hancock, is represented by the composition “Toys,” but Payton fills the keyboard chair on the date as well as playing trumpet). Rounding out the quartet is the esteemed drummer Karriem Riggins, a longtime collaborator of Payton’s who helps ensure that the music bridges generations as well as styles. “Miles Davis’ ‘Four’ & More was the album that really inspired me to take up music seriously,” Payton explains. “Ever since then, Ron Carter has been an idol and a favorite musician of mine. As long as I’ve been leading bands I’ve patterned my choice of bassists by the metric of how much Ron they have in their playing. When I’ve looked for pianists in my band over the years, it’s often predicated on how much Herbie they have in their sound. So this album is really a dream come true for me.” Far from a tribute or a look back, however, Smoke Sessions is a wholly contemporary new album that vibrantly captures Payton’s open-eared blend of swing, funk, soul and hip-hop influences with Riggins’ expansive fluidity behind the kit and Carter’s renowned, rock solid majesty on the bass. Payton seizes the opportunity to engage with that recognizable voice in multiple forms, taking both the Miles and Herbie roles as trumpeter, pianist and keyboardist via the multi-instrumentalism that has become a thrilling trademark of his approach. While Payton has crossed paths with Carter on a number of occasions over the years, he’d never been able to persuade the famously exacting bassist to appear on one of his own dates before now. “He finally started giving me the time of day,” Payton says with a laugh. “Once I had his interest I hurried up and locked it in before he changed his mind.” Whatever the delay, Carter spoke highly of the bandleader in the wake of recording Smoke Sessions. “I was quite pleased and had fun playing with him as a piano player as well as a trumpet player,” the bassist said. “Listen to him play trumpet. He’s listening to my response to what he does — if the trumpet players of today want to try to put him in a place, he should be up there because he listens to what the bass player contributes to his solo.” (http://dlmediamusic.com/press-releases/nicholas-payton-smoke-sessions-available-october-29-2021-via-smoke-sessions-records/) Click here for a taste of this update of groove center by Nicholas Payton (trumpet, piano, keys), Ron Carter (bass) and Karriem Riggins (drums) with George Coleman adding tenor sax to two songs.

Jared Schonig – Two Takes Vol. 1: Quintet (Anzic): “When at home in New York City, Schonig is a fixture in both the jazz and Broadway scene- he recently held the drum chair for the critically acclaimed Tony, Grammy and Emmy-award winning Broadway Revival of The Color Purple and is currently playing drums and percussion for Moulin Rouge! The Musical. He also is an in-demand drummer/percussionist for studio recordings, jingle sessions and other commercial music recordings. Jared is releasing not one but TWO impressive solo albums – his first as a band leader – featuring his own compositions. One in a quintet setting, the other with big band realizations penned by some of today’s leading arrangers including Jim McNeely, Darcy James Argue, John Daversa and Miho Hazama. This is a stunning, ambitious debut.” (https://jaredschonig.bandcamp.com/album/two-takes-vol-1-quintet) Click here to check out Volume 1 with Marquis Hill (trumpet), Gorwin Louis (alto sax), Luis Perdomo (piano, Rhodes), Matt Clohesy (acoustic bass) and Jared Schonig (drums). Absolutely terrific! Click here to listen to the songs on this set.

Anthony Wonsey – Lorraine’s Lullabye (Cellar Music): “When I think of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” I often think of my music training and all of the great musicians and people I have come across throughout the years, starting with the great trumpeter Zilner Randolph, who was Louis Armstrong’s musical director in the ’40s. I was five years old when I met the master, and the piano lessons he gave me were really life lessons – I just did not realize it at the time. The village raising a child soon grew, and I entered high school, where Reginald Willis became my mentor. Because of this, I won a four-year scholarship to Berklee College of Music. Mulgrew Miller and James Williams as well as my peers and other members of the village became my teachers and mentors. Now, living in New York City since ’95, I continue to be inspired in this great city by great musicians and great people. One of those great people is Lorraine Tiezzi, who is a real lover of this Black American art form. This album is about saying thank you to all the people in the village who continue to raise that child. Since the pandemic, it has really humbled me in many ways – this is my way of saying thank you. I bring you Lorraine’s lullabies.” (https://anthonywonsey.bandcamp.com/album/lorraine-s-lullabies) Wonsey offers five originals that cover a variety of moods and styles as well as reaching back for several songs including “Sweet Lorraine” and “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”. Players in this set are Dmitri Kolesnik (bass (2 – 7, 9), Brandi Disterfheft (bass 8 & 10), Chris Beck (drums 3 – 10), Antoine Drye (trumpet 8, 9), Zet Harris (tenor sax (8, 9), soprano sax (10) and Milton Suggs – voice (10). Click here to listen to the opening song.

New Blues:

Catfish Keith – Land Of The Sky (Fish Tail): “Cutting-edge blues singer, songwriter and bottleneck slide guitarist Catfish Keith has established himself as one of the most exciting country blues performers of our time. Catfish’s innovative style of foot-stomping, deep delta blues and American roots music has spellbound audiences the world over. He has reinvented the guitar with great power and artistry, and brings a rare beauty and vitality to his music. Handing down the tradition, Catfish continues his lifelong journey as one of the brightest lights in acoustic blues and roots music. (https://www.catfishkeith.com/) This was recorded all solo, singing and playing on an array of guitars, and, on one cut, a ukulele. And stomping feet.” (https://www.catfishkeith.com/product/land-of-the-sky-cd/) I regret I’m not able to find a sample from this release, but click here to listen to “Brown Skin Girl” from 2017.

Colin James – Open Road (Stony Plain): ““I’m opening doors for you –walk through them.” (Stevie Ray Vaughan) From the prairies of Saskatchewan to sharing the stage with arguably the greatest and most influential guitarists of all time, Colin James still remembers those words of advice given to him by the late, great, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Colin James has taken those words to heart. His career has spanned over 30 years, with a track record that includes 19 studio albums, 7 Juno Awards, 27 Maple Blues Awards and multi-platinum record sales. His most recent album Miles To Go garnered worldwide attention, debuting on the Billboard Blues Charts and holding a position on the RMR Blues Chart for 24 weeks, 14 weeks in the top 10. He continues to sell out shows across Canada with over 80,000 tickets sold on tours over the past 3 years. Colin was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2014…. Colin has set the bar for consistency and talent in Canadian music and even after 19 acclaimed albums remains at the top of his game, always challenging himself musically. A consummate professional and a superb guitarist, Colin is a musician’s, musician.” (https://colinjames.com/bio/) Click here to listen to “Down On The Bottom” from this new set.

Ben Levin – Still Here (VizzTone): “At only 22 years old, Ben Levin is already making his mark as a blues pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. Ben has been nominated for a Blues Music Award and two Blues Blast Magazine Awards. Based in Cincinnati, OH, Ben has been playing 100 shows a year since he was 15 years old, embracing the authentic sound of his heroes such as Professor Longhair, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Spann, and Ray Charles…. At 17 Ben self-released his debut CD, Ben’s Blues, which included four original songs sprinkled in with covers of Professor Longhair, Big Maceo, John Lee Hooker, and others…. In July 2019 Ben’s second CD Before Me was released by Vizztone Label Group to enthusiastic reviews, and the CD debuted in the top 50 blues CDs in a variety of radio-based charts around the world: Living Blues, Roots Music Report, Independent Blues Broadcasters Association, and Australian Blues and Roots. Ben’s mentors and heroes Bob Margolin (guitar), Bob Corritore (harmonica) and Philip Paul (drums) contribute to the CD with an authenticity that only decades of playing and recording can bring. Before Me, was nominated for a Blues Music Award, “Best Emerging Artist Album”. (https://benlevinpiano.com/biography) This appears to be his fourth release and he is going strong. Ben plays piano & vocals, Aron Levin (guitar), Chris Douglas (bass) and Oscar Bernal (drums). Click here to listen to the songs on this disc “Still Here”.

Jason Ricci / Joe Krown – City -> Country -> City (Gulf Coast): “Harmonica player/singer Jason Ricci is a multiple Blues Music Award-winner, while organ/piano player Joe Krown has legendary Crescent City credentials and is currently the keyboardist in Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s band. Together, they team up as Ricci/Krown on their new CD, City Country City, a retro soul-infused outing that features Jason’s gutsy vocals and stellar harmonica, overlaid with Joe’s melodic and earthy organ playing. City Country City brings back the sound and feel of early 1960s jazz/blues with an original sound all its own…. Jason Ricci is one of the best and most imitated blues harmonica players of the 21st century. He picked up the instrument as a teenager when he started playing in a punk rock band. (He lived and played) with Junior and David Kimbrough in Mississippi and then worked as a sideman with Big Al and The Heavyweights for more than a year. In the late ‘90s, he formed Jason Ricci and New Blood…. “Joe Krown is a New Orleans-styled piano and Hammond-endorsed B-3 player. He held the keyboard chair with Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown & Gate’s Express from 1992 until Gatemouth’s passing in the fall of 2005. Joe is featured on the chart topping Gatemouth albums The Man, Gate Swings, American Music Texas Style and Gate’s final studio recording, Back to Bogalusa…. Joe Krown is currently performing as the organ/piano player for the multi-award-winning Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, and played on Shepherd’s The Traveler and Straight to You Live albums. Krown has also toured with Mavis Staples and Allen Toussaint, among many others…. ” (https://gulfcoastrecords.bigcartel.com/product/ricci-krown-city-country-city) Click here to listen to a slice of “Down n’ Dirty” from this release.

David Vest – Live At Hermann’s (Cordova Bay): “They don’t make them as real as David Vest anymore. The son of an Alabama sharecropper, the longtime Victoria BC resident is still going strong some 50 plus years since he first stepped on stage with the likes of Big Joe Turner. Long revered as one of the great boogie-woogie piano players, Vest is a five-time winner of Canada’s national Maple Blues Award for Piano Player of the Year. He is also a prolific songwriter. He wrote the first songs ever recorded by Tammy Wynette, and his tunes have been covered by artists ranging from Paul deLay to the legendary Downchild Blues Band, whose cover of Vest’s “Worried About The World” reached number one on the Roots Music Report blues song chart. Vest continues to live in Canada and is offers his most recent disc this in 2021. His voice certainly shows a lot of ware but he can surely polish those ivories! Click here to listen to some of the songs, like “Infrimaratin” on this disc.

Kopasetically,

Professor Bebop

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