New Jazz & Blues Releases – 11/30/2021

New Jazz & Blues Releases — 11/30/2021

New Jazz Releases:

Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra – Tinctures In Time (Royal Potato Family): “Tinctures in Time is the first original music Bernstein has ever written for the MTO, which from the beginning had exclusively been a vehicle for his arrangements of other people’s songs, from Count Basie to Prince. Most of the album was composed in 2019, a tough year for Bernstein: Henry Butler had recently passed, and there were serious injuries and death in his immediate family. Like a lot of people do, Bernstein got through it by working. “I was spending a lot of time on planes, going to visit people in hospitals,” he says. “So what else am I going to do with my time? I ended up with all this music.”
“The tincture of time” is a phrase Bernstein’s father, a doctor, uses for when there’s nothing to be done but wait for something to heal; the relevance of time as healer for Bernstein himself is clear. He altered the phrase so it makes a little reference to a favorite Sly Stone tune. And “tinctures,” Bernstein says, also refers to “things that people take to give feelings of euphoria.” It’s why he calls this “cannabis music.”
“Cannabis music” is part of a tradition that extends back to the very beginning of jazz: what was known in the 1920s as “viper music.” But the influences here include not just jazz but funk, various kinds of African music, and Minimalism. It adds up to “a sense of music not of this world,” Bernstein explains, “an altered state that you can kind of lose yourself in. Tinctures in Time is in the tradition of trance music.”
“One of the things that Henry and I really bonded on,” he continues, “was we both felt that music was not just notes and rhythm — when we play music it’s really about transformative experiences: that was our goal.” Or, as Fran Lebowitz once said, “music is like a drug that doesn’t kill you.” (https://stevenbernstein.bandcamp.com/album/tinctures-in-time-community-music-vol-12021) Click here to listen to “Show Me Your Myth” and other songs to get the idea.

Kristen R. Bromley Quintet – Bluish Tide (Self-produced): “Dr. Kristen R. Bromley is a gifted and sought-after instructor, as well as a loved performer and composer.  In addition to directing ensembles and teaching guitar and jazz studies courses at the university level, Dr. Bromley works as a professional arranging/composing, performing, and recording musician, and she is the owner and primary featured artist of Kristen R. Bromley Music, LLC. Kristen has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Education from Boston University, a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies, with an additional BA major in Family History and Genealogy, from Brigham Young University. In January 2016, Dr. Bromley suffered a severe break to her left-arm humerus bone, which likewise involved the crushing of her left-arm radial nerve.  Despite a very grim prognosis, which suggested that in a best-case-scenario she would regain a very small percentage of the function of her left-arm and hand, Dr. Bromley works as a musician and guitarist today.” (http://box5548.temp.domains/~kristgq4/?page_id=2) On this release, Bromley Bromley’s guitar sounds quite fine and she is accompanied Ray Smith (tenor sax, alto flute), Steve Erickson (piano), Matt Larson (bass) and Nat Lawrence (drums). This is a terrific follow-up to her earlier releases. I regret I am unable to song from this release.

Steve Coleman & Five Elements – Live At The Village Vanguard, Volume II (Pi Recordings): “Recorded live in performance at the renowned Village Vanguard in New York City, “Mdw Ntr,” finds MacArthur Fellow Steve Coleman exploring new terrain in his use of non-linear performance practices in his music. Featuring his long-running flagship ensemble Five Elements, he utilizes spontaneous and pre-composed modules, or motivic cells that can be played in any order, allowing each musicians to spontaneously jump forward or backward to different sections – even between compositions – highlighting different strata of the music and reinventing the form each time in a completely interactive way. Coleman often composes these modules by envisioning them as chains of tonal dyads that are strung together along rhythmic patterns to create melodic structures, something he sees as an analogue of DNA sequences. The work also reflects his research into the connection between language and music, in particular the early attempts at music notation using shapes and glyphs in ancient Egypt and the structural and functional similarities between spontaneous composition and Mdw Ntr, a transliteration of the writing system usually called hieroglyphics. Coleman’s use of complex rhythmic cycles is a consistent hallmark of his work, and the roiling, surging momentum found here is no exception. Featured prominently is a long-time collaborator, spoken word artist Kokayi, who brings a freewheeling, rhythmically-acute, almost tent revival aesthetic to the proceedings. Together, they continue to push the possibilities for spontaneous composition and improvisation.” (https://stevecoleman.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-village-vanguard-volume-ii-mdw-ntr) In addition to Coleman on alto sax, the players are Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Kokayi (vocals), Anthony Tidd (bass) and Sean Rickman (drums). Hip as can be! Click here to listen to samples of several of the songs on this disc.  https://stevecoleman.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-village-vanguard-volume-ii-mdw-ntr

Edward Decker – The Best You Can Give: The Songs of Tony DeSare (Edward Decker Music): “What a perfect title for Eddie’s second extraordinary solo 7-string masterpiece…I called Eddie to say “Wow, how did you find these gems?”I then learned that “The Best You Can Give” includes ALL original compositions by the exceptional composer, singer, musician and longtime friend – Tony DeSare…. Eddie’s mastery of the 7-string, (which to newcomers is a “Low A” on the guitar) is clearly apparent, but is another soulful and emotional level…” (Liner notes). Listen for yourself! Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

Nick Finzer – Out Of Focus (Outside In Music): “Sometimes a bit of isolation is just what an artist needs, even if it comes by surprise…. Nick Finzer made the most out of his time in lockdown with a new compilation of projects featuring the Trombonist in Solo, Quartet, and Trombone Ensemble settings. Following on the heels of Nick Finzer’s 2020 Release Cast of Characters; the trombonist and composer found himself with more time to focus on himself and his artistry than he anticipated, leading to a boon of creative practice curated by the lockdowns that the year had to offer. “Rather than sit at home and complain” says Finzer “I decided to see what projects I could dream up that might only take place when you can’t be in the same place as your usual collaborators.” The result is a wide-ranging exploration of settings that the 2020 Downbeat Rising Star Trombonist has yet to explore on his new 2021 release Out of Focus…. On Out of Focus Finzer puts his compositional pen to the side, to explore many compositions that have informed his growth as an artist since his early days as a trombonist. This collection of pieces is a document of a time in our history known colloquially by some as “the great pause” – and the process of focusing on his artistry created an outlet for the stress and anxiety that the lockdowns presented us all. “It took a long time to make this statement for me… the overwhelm was real last year. I’m very glad I persisted here and now have the chance to share some music that I really love, with the community.” (https://www.outsideinmusic.com/pressreleases/nick-finzer-out-of-focus) Click here to listen to the on this release.

Harold Mabern – Mabern Plays Coltrane (Smoke Sessions): “Harold held a special reverence for John Coltrane. “He was very influential in my life and my playing, too,” he once said. “After being around him and seeing what a great human being he was – man, I wish the whole world could have known John Coltrane.” Mabern Plays Coltrane is culled from the final three-nights of a three-week residency at Smoke’s annual year ending John Coltrane Festival that started in 2017 ended with these performances that Mabern and the band played in January 2018. The resulting recordings also produced two earlier albums: The Iron Man, which shined a spotlight on Mabern the performer and interpreter and offered a glimpse into a typical evening’s performance and Mabern Plays Mabern, which commemorated Mabern’s gifts as a composer and followed his untimely death at age 83 on September 17, 2019. Mabern Plays Coltrane is the album that was originally planned for those live recording sessions. Mabern had always played a key role in the festival since its inaugural edition in 2011. From the initial weeklong fest through its later three- and four-week incarnations, Mabern was the headliner for much of the annual run, an indication of both his appreciation for Coltrane as a forbear and mentor as well as his own vital role at Smoke. “Playing John Coltrane’s music with Harold was like tapping into the source,” says Farnsworth. “He was like the vortex, and it all flowed through him. It was intense. Having Harold on the stage, given how much he loved John Coltrane, it elevated the spirit of the music tenfold.” (https://smokesessionsrecords.com/shop/albums/mabern-plays-coltrane/) Click here to listen to short samples of the songs on this disc.

Doug MacDonald – Serenade To Highland Park (DMACMUSIC): “Highland Park is a section of Los Angeles where I spent many memorable nights. Years ago, The Peak Show had a space on York Blvd. where they would throw fantastic parties, concerts that would go deep into the night, featuring the area’s best bands. The area has changed quite a lot since then, but I still have the fondest of feelings for Highland Park. Clearly I am not alone in that, as evidenced by the title of Doug MacDonald’s excellent new release, Serenade To Highland Park. Interestingly, earlier this year Doug MacDonald released another album whose title refers to a section of Los Angeles, that album being Toluca Lake Jazz. The group for this new album is the trio of Doug MacDonald on guitar, Mike Flick on bass, and Paul Kreibich on drums, and the music is mostly standards, along with two original compositions, including the title track.” (https://michaelsmusiclog.blogspot.com/2021/11/doug-macdonald-serenade-to-highland.html) The trio plays wonderfully together. I regret I am unable to share a song from this release.

Makaya McCraven – Deciphering The Message (Blue Note): “Look at the sources credited on Makaya McCraven’s Deciphering the Message—Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, Horace Silver, Art Blakey—and you could be excused for anticipating another younger Blue Note artist paying tribute to his predecessors at the label. But that’s not what McCraven (who prefers to be called a “beat scientist” rather than a drummer or producer) is doing here, at least not exclusively. As he’s done before in other ways, McCraven is excavating willfully, cherry-picking pieces from the past and reassembling them into new wholes with aid from other forward-thinking adventurers.
“A Slice of the Top,” which leads the program, lays out the concept convincingly. The spoken intro you hear is Pee Wee Marquette preparing us for “something special,” lifted directly from Blakey’s 1954 landmark LP A Night at Birdland Vol. 1. What follows isn’t Blakey, though; rather it’s McCraven’s drums and bass, married to music made by Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner and others long before McCraven was born, grafted from a 1966 Mobley album. The crisp, contemporary production and beats recast the vintage recording—its vibe is classic Blue Note, but its sound is 2021. McCraven’s reworking of Dorham’s “Sunset” tweaks the idea further: The base track, which appeared on the trumpeter’s 1961Whistle Stop, hangs onto the contributions of original cast members Dorham, Mobley, Kenny Drew, Philly Joe Jones, and Paul Chambers. But to that, McCraven adds new guitar parts from Jeff Parker, vibraphone from Joel Ross, and more. A dub-like section mid-song, and the leader’s own twisty rhythms, transform the original into a considerably altered beast. There are 13 such experiments in all here—from a trippy “Autumn in New York” that originated on a Kenny Burrell title to Clifford Brown as you’ve never imagined him—each an impressively reconfigured pastiche.” (https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/makaya-mccraven-deciphering-the-message-blue-note/) Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.

Oscar Peterson – A Time For Love – The Oscar Peterson Quartet: Live In Helsinki, 1987 (Mack Avenue): This is a wonderful celebration gift – truly Thanksgiving! Oscar Peterson at his perfect best on the ivories and Joe Pass adding his unsurpassable guitar! Top it off with the bass/drums tandem of Dave Young and Martin Drew and you must be in heaven! Click here to listen to the title song “A Time For Love”.

Enrico Rava – (ECM): “Italian flugelhornist Enrico Rava blows remarkably hot and cold. His recordings are either hair-raising events or exercises in tedium. Good news: Edizione Speciale, recorded live in Antwerp with a sextet, is one of Rava’s best in the former category. There’s not a moment when every member of the band isn’t on fire. Indeed, it crackles from the moment it begins: with Rava’s “Infant,” whose beboppish head gives way to careening dialogue between Rava and electric guitarist Francesco Diodati (channeling his best Sonny Sharrock), who dominates the track and also has a wild interaction with pianist Giovanni Guidi. It’s wilder, in fact, than “Wild Dance,” a dark and largely freeform odyssey that proceeds at ballad tempo with Diodati taking a dominant role. Tenor saxophonist Francesco Bearzatti has a moment in the sun as well with the snappy closer “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás,” taking two solos that burst with flavor and bracketing them with growls on the tune’s bridge. On “The Fearless Five,” everyone fires on all thrusters—though the forceful swing of bassist Gabriele Evangelista and drummer Enrico Morello is its defining feature. The energy even suffuses “Once Upon a Summertime,” the album’s sole ballad. Granted, it’s less than two minutes long and part of a medley with Rava’s “Theme for Jessica Tatum,” but within that small bracket it features some of the band’s finest interplay. Rava plays languidly, thoughtfully, while first Evangelista, then Bearzatti, play laments in response. Morello shivers both cymbal and bells, and Guidi provides a beautiful coda that stretches to connect to “Tatum.” It’s an extraordinary ride.” (https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/enrico-rava-edizione-speciale-ecm/) Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this release.

Henry Threadgill Zooid – POOF (Pi Recordings): “For over forty years, Henry Threadgill has been celebrated as one of the most forward-thinking composers and multi- instrumentalists in American music. The New York Times has called him “perhaps the most important jazz composer of his generation.” Threadgill is a recipient of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music for “In for a Penny, In for a Pound.” Threadgill is an early member of the AACM.” (https://henrythreadgill.bandcamp.com/album/poof) Threadgill is accompanied by Henry Threadgill (alto sax, flute, bass flute), Liberty Ellman (acoustic guitar), Jose Davila (tuba, trombone),  Christopher Hoffman (cello), and Elliot Humberto Kavee (drums). Quick here to and scroll down to listen to samples of three of the five songs.

Anna Webber – Idiom (Pi Recordings): “Idiom by composer/saxophonist/ flutist Anna Webber is the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed release Clockwise, which the Wall Street Journal called “visionary and captivating” and NPR described as “heady music [that] appeal to the rest of the body.” Idiom is a series of six pieces, each of which is based on a specific woodwind extended technique — a broad term meaning any non-traditional way of producing sound on an instrument, including the use of multiphonics, alternate fingerings, key clicks, overblown notes, and the like — that she has taken from her own improvisational language. The works are the upshot of her belief that jazz composers/performers are in a privileged position to create the perfect vehicles for themselves as improvisers. As a frequent user of extended techniques in her own playing, Webber set out to create a continuum between her compositional and improvisatory vocabulary, orchestrating these effects across the ensemble, and applying them to different instruments. They are also used to generate chords and scales and, overall, gave license to utilize other naturally occurring sounds, opening up whole new worlds of mysterious sonic combinations and orchestrations.
“Idiom II” from this book of compositions appeared on Clockwise, while the new project – spread out over two volumes – comprises the other five “Idiom” pieces. The first four of these feature her Simple Trio – Webber with drummer John Hollenbeck and pianist Matt Mitchell – which has been her primary working group for the past eight years. The hour-long “Idiom VI” is performed by a twelve-piece ensemble that brings together a mix of musicians equally split between improvisors and new music specialists. With Idiom, Webber has created a singular sonic world, a bold magnum opus that paves a new path for the amalgamation of cutting-edge composition and improvisation. The players are Anna Webber (tenor sax, flute, bass flute),  Nathaniel Morgan (alto sax), Yuma Uesaka (tenor sax, clarinet, contra-alto clarinet), Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), David Byrd-Marrow (horn), Jacob Garchik (trombone), Erica Dicker (violin),  Joanna Mattrey (viola), Mariel Roberts (cello), Liz Kosack (synthesizer), Nick Dunston (bass),   Satoshi Takeishi (drums) and Eric Wubbels (conductor). Click here to listen to a few samples from this release.

New Blues and Soul:

Kevin Greenwood – She Knocks Me Out (BlueK Media Group): Singer/song-writer/harmonica player Kevin Greenwood offer his most recent set of original songs and straight-forward blues tunes. He is backed up by guitarists Bob Welsh (seven songs, keys), Steve Freund (four songs), Niko Hernandez (four songs), Johnny “Cat” Soubrand (two songs), Jed Beyer (bass, guitar), Eric Selenger (two songs), Brett Brandstatt (guitar, keys) and Jack Sanford, Doug Rowan or John Lull (sax). I regret I am unable to find a sample from this release.

Little G Weevil – Live Acoustic Session (Hunnia Records): “Little G Weevil is a highly esteemed member of the worldwide blues community. He is the solo winner of the Blues Foundation`s International Blues Challenge in 2013, and has been nominated for USA Blues Music Award, Blues Blast Music Award and USA Independent Blues Award. He released eight internationally acclaimed albums and toured across the globe. During his travels he shared the stage with legendary musicians such as Johnny Winter, the Neville Brothers, Terry Evans, John Popper, Lee Oskar, Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets with Sam Myers, Denise Lasalle, Billy Gibson, Otis Taylor, Big Jack Johnson, Lonnie Shields, Lurrie Bell, Willie King, Ian Siegal, Matt Scofield and many more. Gee grew up in Budapest, Hungary. He formed his first band in 1996 and began touring mostly in European countries before moving to the South of the United States in 2004. He spent time in Birmingham, AL and Memphis, TN as he tried to establish himself on the local scene. Finally he got his break with a steady gig on Beale Street in Memphis and his reputation started to grow.” (https://gweevil.com/biography) This appears to be his eighth or ninth release and his style singing including some shouts and hollers and guitar playing are terrific! In fact, this release is a certified Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here and scroll down to listen to songs from this release.

Stacy Mitchhart – Printers Alley (Self-produced): “Stacy Mitchhart’s musical journey began in his native Cincinnati, Ohio, in a home where jazz guitar masters like Wes Montgomery and Johnny Smith were played on the stereo. Therefore it was natural that he gravitated to the six-string. As a child he saw the outrageous Little Richard on a TV show and was captivated by his showmanship. Little Richard looked and acted differently than anybody he had ever been exposed to. Today, Mitchhart has created his own brand of showmanship that brings audiences back again and again.“I heard Springsteen, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but that stuff never moved me,” he recounts. “When I saw Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and B.B. King, I knew what I wanted to do. Since then, my playing’s just gotten more focused and aggressive with time.”  Another serious inspiration was Cincinnati guitarist and singer Frank Hedges, a musical preacher whose sons were also in Mitchhart’s first band. “He played guitar in a strange, almost drum like style, which taught me to concentrate on the groove….“The truth is,” Mitchhart continues, “I’m more comfortable onstage entertaining than I am in my own living room. I’ve spent my whole life there. And I feel like the stripped down approach of this new album lets other people get inside my music almost as deep as I do every night when I’m on stage.” (https://www.stacymitchhart.com/stacy-mitchhart-bio) This album will commemorate 24 years of Stacy’s career here in Nashville & Printers Alley…. “I wanted this album to reflect how much Nashville & Printers Alley has meant to me, my family and my Band.  I’m in the studio now finishing up 3 Brand New songs that we are so excited for you to hear.  As a special bonus for this record, and tribute to Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar in Printers Alley, we are doing a cover of the classic song “Basin Street Blues”. I’ve never released this song on a Stacy Mitchhart Record and wanted to pay homage to the New Orleans sound and connection to Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar.  In keeping with the Printers Alley theme – I have gone back and chosen several previously recorded songs that speak to the amazing crowds and moments I’ve shared on stage during my time in Printers Alley. It has been my pleasure to be a part of Nashville’s music community for 23 years and this 11 song album will certainly reflect how much it has all meant to me”. (Stacy Mitchhart) Click here to listen to “What I Feel” from this release.

Jon Spear Band – B-Side Of My Life (The Jon Spear Band): “For their third outing, the  Jon Spear Band continue the standard of the rather nice Hot Sauce album from a few years back…the bluesy skills and humour (check out Butt Dial Kyle or the title track) is still present on their latest release, B-Side Of My Life. So named because, like me discovering the heavy rock of The Sweet on their b-sides, there is much to be discovered on those 45s. As the band say, “Coming out of a lockdown that took us off the road and into the studio to record the third studio album, allowed time to stretch out and explore new musical routes and journeys we call a collection of B-sides, like the old 45 records that sometimes yielded a surprise hit song.” The band have an impressive pedigree of performing and supporting major acts, but it is together that they excel and bring that experience to bear via blues, rock, soul, country, funk and a hint of jazz, on the eleven original and two cover songs. I won’t dissect all thirteen but rather select my personal highlights.” (https://bluesdoodles.com/cd-reviews/jon-spear-band-are-be-side-themselves/) The Jon Spear Band will stop by The Stage at WTJU Thursday, December 2, at 9pm for a special TWO hour performance and chat with the Juddermeister about their new album, B-Side Of My Life, out December 3.
Besides listening to this concert on WTJU (91.1 FM, streaming at wtju.net/player), you can video stream it from WTJU’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Click here for the “B-Side Of My Life” .

New Soul:

Gerod Rayborn – I Love My Blues (Ecko): “The title cut of Gerod Rayborn’s new album I Love My Blues first saw light of day on Ecko Records’ 2019 sampler Blues Mix 28: Dance Party Soul. The title was listed as “I Like The Blues” but the song was the same, including the lyrics, “I love my blues”. Memphis musician Rayborn is well-known throughout the southern soul industry for his association with Ecko Records as a composer, producer and recording artist. He’s written songs for Jaye Hammer, Sheba Potts-Wright, Carl Sims, Denise LaSalle, David Brinston, Ms. Jody and O.B. Buchana…. What really gets the blood flowing, however, are two tunes you’d never expect on a record by a musician thoroughly immersed in Ecko Records culture. “You Didn’t Know What You Had” is Percy Sledge-like. It also recalls the best days (when the streets were cobblestoned in gold) of Stax and Hi Records, former Memphis institutions that the current, Memphis-area music scene seems to give short shrift. The other head-turning track is “Somebody’s Been Talking Too Much,” a winsome, mid-tempo, domestic slice-of-life that begs for airplay. If you’re not seduced by the musically-undulating verses (and, once again, Rayborn’s expert but invisible-like-God, totally natural vocalizing), you’ll be transported by the exotic, far-Eastern, musical fillip that tiptoes through the instrumental track.” (https://southernsoulrnbnew.com/cd-reviews/) (Daddy B. Nice) Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.

Kopasetically,

Professor Bebop

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