New Jazz & Blues Releases – 9/7/2021
New Jazz Releases:
Pat Coil – How Deep Is The Ocean (Burton Avenue): “A talented keyboardist, Pat Coil has thus far stuck mostly to the commercial side of jazz in his own projects. He began piano lessons when he was eight and, by the time he was a young teenager, Coil was leading his own bands, playing rock, country and a bit of jazz. He attended North Texas State University for four years, performing with their One O’clock Lab Band. While still in college, Coil often gigged in Dallas and Ft. Worth. His most notable association was playing, touring and recording with Woody Herman’s Orchestra for 2 1/2 years in the late 1970’s. After leaving Herman, Coil worked in Dallas as a session musician for five years. His band, Recoil, released two albums: Pardon My Fantasy and The Fantasy Continues. He had the opportunity to substitute for Lyle Mays with Pat Metheny’s Group on a few occasions. Coil eventually moved to Los Angeles where he worked in the studios. He toured with Carmen McRae for a year, recorded with Ernie Watts, Nancy Wilson, Grant Geissman, Scott Henderson, Natalie Cole (her Unforgettable CD) and a variety of pop artists, and in the early 1990’s recorded two solo albums for Sheffield Lab that fell into the “contemporary jazz” genre.” (Scott Yanow) The rhythm section on this release is comprised by Jacob Jezioro (bass) and Danny Gottlieb (drums). Click here to listen to the songs of this release.
Rachel Eckroth – The Garden (Rainy Days): “Pianist, composer and singer Rachel Eckroth’s first release on Rainy Days Records unveils fresh sounds from her evolving artistry. Steeped in synth orchestration, The Garden reflects a nuanced exploration of sonic impulses and inquiries alongside Eckroth’s signature layered compositions and glimmers of trance-inducing vocals. With contributions from acclaimed guitarist Nir Felder, saxophonists Donny McCaslin and Andrew Krasilnikov and modular synth master Austin White, and a core band featuring bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Christian Euman, The Garden emerged conceptually while Eckroth was writing new music during the pandemic. “Everything on the album has a different feel to it — different colors and textures,” says the West Coast artist. “It felt like a garden. So we just rolled with it.” Eckroth revels in new experiences across rich, diverse musical settings. The multifaceted artist continually refines her expression, frequently collaborating as a featured guest with creative visionaries who have included Rufus Wainwright, St. Vincent, KT Tunstall, Donny McCaslin, Tia Fuller and Chris Botti. But composing during the pandemic afforded Eckroth and partner Lefebvre unique opportunities to compose and perform together. From their home in Arizona, they dug in to each other’s expressions and began developing a duo sound. “Especially during Covid, we were making music pretty much every day together,” says Eckroth. When Eugene Petruhanskiy greenlit a possible release from Eckroth for Rainy Days, she and Lefebvre considered what they might create around a synth-forward recording. The textural-minded musicians began soundscaping across familiar territory and new domains. Almost immediately, the Prophet 6 emerged as a key element for record’s sound. “It ends up on a lot of my live gigs,” says Eckroth. “I’ve used it on all the tours I’ve played with other people. I’m a pianist, but the record doesn’t have a lot of piano. The Yamaha CP 70 served the ‘meat’ of some of the songs. And the Korg minilogue is an instrument I use really well for some reason; it’s very intuitive.” (https://rainydaysrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-garden) Click here and scroll down to listen to two songs on this release.
Dutch Falconi – Curious Fabrications (Aurore): “For me, Curious Fabrications is a fractured dream in black & white. Soaked in Scotch and probably partially drug induced, Curious Fabrications is discreet but high contrast. Set in the big, naked, cold city, the songs provide a kind of hazy roadmap for the intrepid listener to follow. Is it a crime you’re solving? Probably. Are there clues to point the way? Everywhere. Does it contain dangerous and sexy characters to encounter? I sure hope so. Once inside the album, each track should function as a puzzle piece in the unfolding of a personalized narrative, one motivated by the fruitful ambiguity of the music and informed by the listener’s individual experiences. How much real fun you’ll have in listening depends on what you bring to the party. Right? For all my music it’s my hope to cast the listener in the role of the central character. My ideal audience can relinquish enough control to the music to be both swept-up into it, and to actively use it as a soundtrack to enhance the daily intrigues of modern life. In doing so, I tried to consider what a film director might need musically to support a hard-boiled protagonist intent on unwinding a mystery. Overall, while shaped into “songs” for quasi-commercial purposes, I’ve tried to do as experienced film composers might suggest, and I believe musically I’ve asked more questions than given answers.The pandemic of 2020 and the many months of sequestration dominate the context for the creation of this record. While constant political turmoil, economic evisceration, social upheaval and apathy toward the changing climate factor significantly in the ambient anxiety I feel/ felt during the making of Curious Fabrications, the precautionary isolation and its psychological effects were the biggest contributor to its creation. In my case, the pressure resulted in an explosion of new material. Being locked away, so to speak, is at human scale and nearly everyone can relate. At least, I hope. Curious Fabrications is my “lock-down” album and it is almost entirely a digital mock-up, made with sampled virtual instruments. The pieces were made in total opposition to the multi-track recording magic of Bloom & Brimstone, where I performed practically every instrument myself. Here, nearly everything is synthetic and virtual with tiny tidbits of me actually playing a “real” air moving instrument. Still, they are 100% my original pieces and I’ve finessed every millisecond to try and make it “feel” like a human big band. The only human player is me and what I’m playing is the ensemble.
Certainly, it wasn’t my intention to make such a thoroughly ersatz album. Initially I simply wanted to learn the notation & digital audio workstation (DAW) software, something many of my contemporaries seem to have embraced during my years away from music. It didn’t take long to realize I was making another record even though it was vastly different in approach, tone, style and execution from the previous album Bloom & Brimstone. Because I tend to work at the extremes of things, it seemed a natural next step.I hope the album title projects the music’s underlying film noir aspirations and illuminates its synthetic raw materials. As a title, Curious Fabrications is my heavy-handed attempt to address the virtual or facsimile-like nature of the pieces sonic origin while simultaneously implying a kind of filmic intrigue that I feel they impart. As I’ve mentioned, I hope the pieces themselves lead to narratives conjured up in the mind of the listener. To be sure, these pieces are structurally hybrids inside of hybrids and have one foot in song, one in jazz and one in the programatic cue of old fashioned film music. Certainly to me, each piece is curious and each is absolutely, a complete and total fabrication.” (https://dutchfalconi.com/welcome-to-dutchfalconi-com) Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.
Victor Gould – In Out Time (Blue Room): “Hailed by Downbeat as “a new and important compositional voice,” pianist Victor Gould has earned acclaim as a leader with Clockwork (Debut of the Year, 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll), Earthlings and Thoughts Become Things — three inaugural recordings that established Gould not only as a fine pianist but a composer of depth and substance, adeptly orchestrating for ensembles with horns and strings in varied combinations. On his fourth outing, In Our Time, Gould turns his focus largely to the venerable piano trio format. The album features a lineup that’s special to Gould, one he’s been nurturing as a long-term prospect with bassist Tamir Shmerling and drummer Anwar Marshall.” Special guest Dayna Stephens joins in on two songs on tenor sax and Gould added a string quartet featuring Yoojin Park (violin I), Monica Martin (violin II), Erica Gailing (viola) and Dale Jeong (cello) on the final performance. The string section was added in honor of the “losses from COVID-19 (including Roney and too many others from the jazz world)”. (https://www.victorgouldmusic.com/press-release) Click here and scroll down for a short introduction.
Samara Joy – Samara Joy (Whirlwind): “Samara Joy is an American singer. Joy won the prestigious Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2019, and, aged just 21, she is already a fixture of New York’s jazz clubs. Her debut album SAMARA JOY sees her present her take on jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, backed by Pasquale Grasso and his trio, with Ari Roland and Kenny Washington. Joy grew up in the Bronx, the grandparents of the founders of the Philadelphia-based gospel group The Savettes. Joy has already performed at many of the great jazz venues in New York, including Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, The Blue Note, and Mezzrow, in addition to working with jazz greats such as Christian McBride, Pasquale Grasso, Kirk Lightsey, Cyrus Chestnut, and NEA Jazz Master Dr. Barry Harris.” (https://www.whirlwindrecordings.com/samara-joy/) Click here for a short comment about her new release.
Pokey LaFarge – In The Blossom Of Their Shade (New West): “In March 2020, the veteran singer-songwriter packed up and left his Los Angeles abode behind, putting his belongings in storage in anticipation of spending extensive time on the road in support of his then-forthcoming album, Rock Bottom Rhapsody. He couldn’t wait to head down to Austin a few weeks later to showcase those songs and launch the album with his band at South-by-Southwest. Then the pandemic hit and all of LaFarge’s well-laid plans went into thin air. Stuck in East Austin with nowhere to go, LaFarge did what he does best: he got to work. Throughout his career, nine albums to date including a stint on Jack White’s Third Man Records, the singer-songwriter has never been one to look back in anger or disappointment. LaFarge used the sudden change in plans to his advantage, having perhaps his greatest period of personal growth in the midst of this crippling pandemic. It came as no surprise that the songs instantly started to flow out of him. LaFarge is an artist who refuses to rest on his laurels and compromise. He’s always motivated and ready to create — and when he’s at peace in isolation like he was here, the results can be magical. Looking in, inspired by the deep soul not just from these shores, but from distant geographical places like Africa or South America, LaFarge set out to create a body of work that paired emotional lyrics with a killer groove and grabby melodies. Written by LaFarge and co-produced with Chris Seefried, the album is one of LaFarge’s strongest and most mature lyrical efforts to date. The album’s title, In the Blossom of Their Shade, is taken from a lyric in the stunning, yet dusty “Mi Ideal.” That song sonically draws influences from the Southwest, South America and Caribbean. The distant warmth of the music, especially rhythmically, adeptly coincides with the longing that’s expressed in the lyrics.” (https://www.pokeylafarge.net/bio) I’m not sure about the jazz connection, but the best approach is always listen to the music rather than brand on the label. Listen to hear the opening song, “Get It ‘Fore It’s Gone”.
Renee Rosnes – Kinds Of Love (Smoke Sessions): “Renee Rosnes is one of the premier jazz pianists and composers of her generation. Upon moving to New York City from Vancouver, she quickly established a reputation of high regard, touring and recording with such masters as Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, J.J. Johnson, James Moody, and legendary bassist Ron Carter. She was a charter member of the all-star ensemble, the SFJAZZ Collective, with whom she toured for six years. As a leader, Ms. Rosnes has released 17 acclaimed recordings. In 2016, Written in the Rocks (Smoke Sessions) was named one of ten Best Jazz Albums of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, one of the Best Albums in all genres of music by The Nation, and was awarded a 2017 Canadian Juno (her fifth Juno award). JazzTimes wrote, “Ms. Rosnes delivers conceptual heft, suspenseful compositions and mesmerizing performances,” and DownBeat praised it as “an exceptional achievement” stating “Rosnes is a virtuoso composer.” (https://reneerosnes.com/music/kinds-of-love/) Ms. Rosnes is accompanied by Chris Potter (sax, flutes, bass clarinet), Christian McBride (bass), Carl Allen (drums) and Rogerio Boccato (percussion). Rosnes composed and arranged all of the music. Click here to listen to “Kinds Of Love” from this set.
Brennen Schedler Quartet – Keep Steppin’ Down (Self-produced): Drummer Brennen Schedler and band appear to be based in Colorado. The other players are Rhiannon Dewey (tenor sax), Tom Amend (piano) and Patrick McDevitt (bass) and they are a tight and vibrant group. The group is smooth and tight throughout! Click here to listen to “Kinds Of Love”.
Roseanna Vitro – Sing A Song Of Bird (Skyline): “Sing a Song of Bird is but another daring flight from Roseanna Vitro, a study of Charlie Parker, one of the greatest figures in jazz and popular music. This, her fifteenth record over a forty-year career, is the fulfillment of two goals. The first is to honor the musician’s creed of standing tall on the shoulders of giants (and personal heroes). Bob Dorough, Sheila Jordan, and Marion Cowings are just that, each bringing a lifetime of inspiration to Roseanna through their tireless virtuosity. Second, Roseanna’s emotional commitment to song narratives and meaningful lyrics. As Roseanna’s devotees know well, she ALWAYS tells her tale. On Sing a Song of Bird, she flies high with Charlie Parker’s classic melodies.
For 50 years, Roseanna Vitro has made vocal jazz her life’s work. She came to jazz from the roots of gospel and the blues, dug deeply into the standards, then embraced a wide variety of influences from Bill Evans to Ray Charles, from cultures and territories covering Brazil to India. During this pursuit, she took her calling to heart as a Jazz Ambassador for the US State Department. She taught vocal jazz at the university level for two decades, authored a series of jazz columns for JazzTimes magazine, released fourteen album projects, and toured on every continent except Antarctica.
Roseanna met Dorough in 1998 when they were both inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame. They developed a kinship from their common roots. Though Bob is best known for his Schoolhouse Rock project, Roseanna first dug him on “Nothing Like You,” a song he originally recorded with Miles Davis in 1966. In 2017, while making her record Tell Me the Truth, Roseanna learned that Bob’s health was failing. She quickly organized a session to document his lyrics to Parker’s “Bluebird” and “Red Cross.” At the same time, Roseanna had grown close to Sheila through their JazzTimes collaboration. She invited her to record with a band of associates: Mark Gross (alto sax), Jason Teborek (piano), Dean Johnson (bass), and Bill Goodwin (drums). Unfortunately, Bob passed within months of the recording, Roseanna then lost her mother, had to move to a new town after 35 years, and lastly, Covid-19 became the highest hurdle. Slowly emerging from the upheaval, she called a second session with an updated band, adding Marion Cowings and Gary Bartz to the mix. Roseanna met Marion when she first arrived in New York, over 40 years ago. She was immediately impressed with his command of bebop. (Marion, a member of their mutual admiration society, introduced her to Jon Hendricks.) Roseanna met Gary on her 1996 Passion Dance recording for Telarc. Gary’s love of Bird was obvious. To complete the picture, Alan Broadbent, Roseanna’s new neighbor, and two-time Grammy winner, agreed to join the session, teaming with bassist Johnson and drummer Alvester Garnett. Thus, the seeds of this recording were sown. Because lyrics and storytelling play a central role in Roseanna’s music, she asked Bob and Sheila to graft their words to Bird’s songs. Marion applied King Pleasure’s lyrics to “Parker’s Mood” and Hendricks’s lyrics to “Now’s the Time.” I wrote for the Parker classics “Scrapple From the Apple” and “Steeplechase,” while forging a second verse to “Sheila, Jazz Child,” an addition to Gary Brock’s original lyrics.
Rounding out all is Gary’s read on “Ko-Ko / Cherokee,” and the three-way interchange among Roseanna, Bob and Sheila on “These Foolish Things.” When the dust cleared, certain verities remained: Charlie Parker was born on August 29, 1920, trumpeted by Roseanna’s newly minted Sing a Song of Bird, which honors his centennial, his enduring impact on popular culture, and all those who continue to believe “Bird lives.” (Paul Wickliffe, producer) Click here to hear the opening song, People Chase, Vitro’s reworking of “Steeplechase”. Sing a Song of Bird is but another daring flight from Roseanna Vitro, a study of Charlie Parker, one of the greatest figures in jazz and popular music. This, her fifteenth record over a forty-year career, is the fulfillment of two goals. The first is to honor the musician’s creed of standing tall on the shoulders of giants (and personal heroes). Bob Dorough, Sheila Jordan, and Marion Cowings are just that, each bringing a lifetime of inspiration to Roseanna through their tireless virtuosity. Second, Roseanna’s emotional commitment to song narratives and meaningful lyrics. As Roseanna’s devotees know well, she ALWAYS tells her tale. On Sing a Song of Bird, she flies high with Charlie Parker’s classic melodies. (Paul Wickliffe, producer) Click here to listen to “People Chase”, the opening song on this disc.
Al Williams Jazz Society – Then And Now (Self-produced): “THEN & NOW, the music of jazz, like any true art form, finds its roots in the struggles and joys of life from generations past. Back THEN, the music was translated from the heart, through discipline, and inspired improvisations of great musicians, composers, and the vocal stylings of the great ones. Yet, jazz was always destined to transcend the clubs, and speakeasies of old, to reach beyond its American birthplace. This music is NOW discovered by, performed by, and reinvented by, nearly every culture worldwide, in all its forms. No matter the ethnicity, language spoken, or location in the world. All this, while still connected to the spirit of its original roots. THEN & NOW is a collection of songs that are both familiar, and new. Presented masterfully by Al Williams Jazz Society to illustrate both the timelessness and evolution of the experience we call jazz. Like all great art, this music will be interpreted uniquely by each who hears it. In the following sections, discover the inspiration for each of the songs. (James Rankin) The players are Al Williams (drums), Ron Kobayashi (keys), Henry Franklin (bass), George Shaw (trumpet/flugelhorn), Doug Webb (tenor/soprano sax), Tony Poingsett (percussion) with Dave Bradshaw (keys) and Nedra Wheeler (bass on “Sandy Smiles”) and Najee (special guest flute on “Little Sunflower”). Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Dave Zinno Unisphere – Fetish (Whaling City): “Dave Zinno and his Unisphere bandmates—Mike Tucker on tenor sax, Eric Benny Bloom on trumpet and flugelhorn, Leo Genovese on keyboards, Tim Ray on piano, Rafael Barata, drums and percussion, and special guest Rafael Rocha on trombone—have been writing and practicing, biding their time until jazz scene reopened. In that time, Unisphere took advantage and managed to piece together, Fetish, a brilliant and beautiful album. The colorful panorama, tonal palette, and sonic breadth featured on Fetish are breathtaking. Zinno’s Unisphere is jubilant, rapturous, and free. Everyone contributed compositions or arrangements to the project, which creates a stunning picture of the diversity represented by this group. Fetish is the sound of that catharsis, that anticipation, a primal release of aural energy. “This project is the culmination of a year without live music,” says Zinno. “Every ounce of energy and ambition, in reserve from not expending it for so long, is on this record. I hope people feel what we felt while creating it.” (https://newworldnjazz.com/dave-zinno-unisphere-fetish-whaling-city/) Click here to listen samples of song on this disc.
New Blues Releases:
The Cold Stares – Heavy Shoes (Mascot): “Authenticity. A word that is frequently used in describing The Cold Stares, and frequently missing from modern music discussions. “We’re not just a blues band, or just a rock band, or anything other than who we are”, front man Chris Tapp says. There is a power and a realness that is arrived at by just doing what you do best. The Cold Stares do that. Formed in 2010 after the duo had spent a number of years in other bands, Chris Tapp and Brian Mullins got together for the sole reason to just jam. No preconceived notions on what the project should be. Just do what comes naturally. The result is a hard rocking, story based brand of rock and roll that is sung from the soul. Chris’ unique guitar rig, along with Mullin’s giant bass drum provides a visual and sonic landscape for the two to travel on different paths than other acts. In fact, you may find yourself looking for another member behind the curtains but it’s just these two men.” (https://www.thecoldstares.com/?page_id=4) Chris Tapp play stringed instruments, keys, vocals) and Brian Mullins (drums, percussion). The music is harsh and loud blues. Click here to listen to “Heavy Shoes” from this release.
Tony Holiday’s Porch Sessions, Vol. 2 – Various Artists (Blue Heart): “Tony Holiday has gathered a second collection of songs performed on the featured on the featured artists’ front porches, stoops, and road recordings by Jon Atkinson. This album is dedicated to the late, great James Harman….” (Liner notes) The performers range from Victor Wainwright, Bobby Rush, and Lurrie Bell to Southern Avenue, Watermelon Slim and James Harman among others. A fine collection sharing a number of styles of the blues. Click here to check out James Harman on Going To Court 2”.
Teresa James – Rose-Colored Glasses, Vol. 1 (Blue Heart): “Teresa James is a born and bred Houston Texas singer now residing in Los Angeles, Ca. Teresa and her band made up of seasoned pros who’ve played along side such artists as Taj Mahal, Eric Burdon, Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton, Tom Jones, Jimmy Reed to name a few. Teresa and her songwriting husband, bassist Terry Wilson and their band have created a sound that’s soulful, funky and fun.” (https://teresajames.bandcamp.com/) Click here to check out two samples from this rockin’ collection.