New Jazz News – 5/11/2021
Airmen of Note – The 2021 Jazz Heritage Series (Self-produced): “The spring season for The U.S. Air Force Band buzzes with excitement, as each of the performing flights prepares for upcoming virtual concerts and educational outreach missions. For the Airmen of Note, the spring means the blossoming of the annual Jazz Heritage Series concerts (JHS), which in essence will continue throughout the year. In a typical year, the JHS concert series features one guest artist per month, culminating in concerts during the first week of February, March and April at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center. However, due to public health restrictions implemented as a result of COVID-19, members of the Airmen of Note have been forced to adapt and reimagine the series. This year’s series will build upon the tradition of creating a full-length studio album by also launching a new video component that can be readily enjoyed by millions around the globe!” (https://www.music.af.mil/Bands/ArticleView/Article/2596117/the-airmen-of-note-bring-unique-innovations-to-jazz-heritage-series/) This year’s special guests are guitarist Peter Bernstein and tenor saxophonist Chris Potter. The set offers standards such as Rodgers and Hart’s “With A Song In My Heart” and Styne and Cahn’s “I Fall In Love Too Easily” with Duke Pearson’s “Chant” and two Bernstein originals and four by Chris Potter. Click here to check out a performance by Chris Potter performing with the band.
Hasaan Ibn Ali – Metaphysics (Lost Atlantic): “For decades, most of what jazz scholars have known about the late, Philadelphia-based pianist and composer Hasaan Ibn Ali came from a single 1965 album – The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan. That recording didn’t exactly establish the idiosyncratic musician as part of jazz’s new vanguard, but it did gather enough attention to prompt Atlantic Records to try a follow up – and that second recording, made in the late summer of 1965, has been the stuff of rumor ever since. Long thought to be lost, this album, entitled Metaphysics, was discovered in 2017 and has just, finally, been released. When Hasaan Ibn Ali made his debut on Atlantic Records, he was 33 years old and living with his parents in Philadelphia. He rarely performed in public, more of a “phantom” than a legend, but within the community of musicians on the East Coast there was a steady hum of grapevine talk about the socially awkward pianist from Philly who could create Thelonious Monk-style whiplash one minute, and sprint up and down the keyboard like Art Tatum the next. In Philadelphia, Ali was known for showing up at jam sessions, sitting down on the piano bench next to whoever was playing, and gradually taking over. Young musicians respected him, and feared him too: Saxophone legend Archie Shepp, who learned to play at those sessions, recalls Ali as an “imposing figure,” saying that when the pianist started to play, he and other younger musicians would flee the bandstand to listen to his intense, questioning music. Only one horn player could keep up with Ali – saxophonist Odean Pope, who made his recording debut on Metaphysics at age 26. Pope played and studied with Ali for years; he recalls visiting the pianist’s house with his friend John Coltrane, absorbing ideas about jazz harmony that were galaxies away from typical bebop. The Metaphysics track “Atlantic Ones” shows that connection: Not only does it bear some similarity to the harmonic motion of Coltrane’s iconic “Giant Steps,” but it shows Ali and Pope engaged in an animated, rapidly evolving musical conversation. For the second album, Ali wrote material for a quartet featuring Pope, and convinced Atlantic he needed several rehearsals ahead of the session – an unusual request at a time when many jazz records were made in a day, with no preparation. Despite an imperfectly tuned piano, the recording sessions were considered a success. But weeks later, Ali was arrested for narcotics possession. That prompted label executives to shelve the project, sending Ali on a downward spiral: Within a few years, he stopped playing in public, and died in a convalescent home in 1981. The release of Metaphysics roughly doubles Hasaan Ibn Ali’s known recorded output. It won’t reorder anyone’s jazz cosmology, but offers insight about his music that confirms the recollections of many who heard and played with him. Brilliant and sometimes sloppy, it’s loaded with musical provocations in the form of diabolical solo leaps and jagged, asymmetrical compositional ideas he likely would have developed further on future projects. Ali might have been hailed/tagged as “legendary” on his very first record, but as this vault discovery shows, he was really just getting started.” (https://www.npr.org/2021/04/26/990881665/the-lost-recordings-of-hasaan-ibn-ali-reveal-a-legend-just-getting-started) Click here to hear a teaser of Ali’s music and his style.
Alpha Rhythm Kings – Sharp Dressed Men (ARK): “Established in 2017, The Alpha Rhythm Kings have created quite a stir with music fans, having crafted an exciting, King Size California sound, with what Roots Music Magazine No Depression calls “the badge of authenticity”. The band’s top quality musicians, with Robert Dehlinger’s blazing trumpet and “magnetic” singing (Jazz Corner) leading the way, are a favorite with swing dancers, as well as with audiences in nightclubs, festivals and concert halls…You may also catch the band entertaining at exclusive private clubs (the French Club, University Club of San Francisco), swanky casinos (the Peppermill in Reno, Nevada, the Orleans in Las Vegas), top class hotels (the Hay-Adams in Washington, D.C.), or family-friendly theme parks (Disneyland, California’s Great America). Frontman Robert has entertained crowds at many of the USA’s most famous locales, including shows at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing in Manhattan, George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, Pixar Animation Studios, and Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA.” (https://www.alpharhythmkings.com/biography) This is the group’s first full length release. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Roxana Amed – Ontology (Sony Music / Latin): Ontology: 1. the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being; 2. a set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and the relations between them. (https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=ontology+definition) Roxana Amed offers the listener fourteen ways this concept might be applied. In addition to Amed, the musicians include Martin Bejerano (piano), Mark Small (sax), Tim Jago (guitar), Aaron Lebos (guitar), Edward Perez and Lowell Ringel (bass), Carlo De Rosa (acoustic and electric bass) and Rodolfo Zuniga and Ludwig Afonso (drums). Amed’s vocals are not in English but they serve as vocal instruments in their own right. This is an enticing performance. Click here to listen to the opening song, “Tumbleweed”.
Evan Arntzen – Countermelody (Dot Time): “Countermelody is named for 3 reasons. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is found in the music itself: we love the kind of interplay and interaction of melodies made famous in the music coming out of New Orleans in the first of the 20th century.. We want to express that energy of togetherness between musicians locked-in to the music, and the excitement that comes from hearing it. The second reason: we created this album, full of passion and joy and togetherness, at a time when doing so felt like a real countermelody to the world around us. This was our way of coping with isolation. We found inspiration in Black American Music, and in the things that bring us together: swing and blues. The tone of this record is very mush intentional – we want you to get up, share joy, and dance. And lastly, it was essential to us to record this album in one room, which is surprisingly and unfortunately unusual (“counter” to most modern recording set-ups). We believe that music is made primarily through the act of listening, which is something each of the musicians on this album does masterfully. The music on this album sounds the way it does in large part because we are all together in one room.” (Liner notes) The performers are Evan Arntzen (clarinet, soprano and tenor sax, vocals), Charlie Halloran (trombone), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Arnt Arntzen (guitar, banjo), Dalton Ridenhour (piano), Tal Ronen (bass) and Catherine Russell (vocals on four songs). And now, it’s time to listen and pat your feet! Click here and scroll down to listen to the songs on this release.
Kendall Carter – Introducing Kendall Carter (Lladnek Music): “Organist Kendall Carter is an emerging organist, hailing from Louisville, KY. He began playing the piano at age 4 and was drawn to the organ by age 13. Matriculating at the University of Louisville, he graduated with a Bachelors of Music in Jazz Piano Performance and a Masters of Music in Jazz Composition and Arranging. Kendall is a Hammond Artist and he can be found actively performing throughout the midwest. Kendall has been provided the opportunity to work with many established musicians including NEA Jazz Master Jamey Aebersold, Dave Stryker, Carmen Bradford, Tim Warfield, and many others. His playing is rooted in the gospel music tradition, but also draws influence from notable organists Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earand, and Shirley Scott. Combining these influences has allowed Kendall to develop his own philosophy on playing the blues and keeping the groove. “Introducing Kendall Carter” is his first release as a leader and features veteran guitarist Dave Stryker and Indianapolis drummer Kenny Phelps. This record draws on the organ trio tradition with its blues-tinged renditions of jazz standards and R&B classics.” (http://republicofjazz.blogspot.com/2021/05/introducing-kendall-carter-2021.html) Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
Ryan Devlin – Thoughts On The Matter (Timucua): “This project came together almost by chance. During a global pandemic I did not think recording a live album was even possible. Luckily Benoit Glazer and his family at Timucua Arts made live music possible during this unpredictable time. I had the opportunity to meet Ulysses Owens Jr. at Timucua back in September. After sitting in on his group’s gig, Ulysses offered to come back and play with my Quartet. I immediately went to my favorite Pianist and Bass player in town in Per Danielsson and Thomas Milovac and started writing the project. This album is written based on my thoughts and feelings on different matters. After 23 short years of life I’ve experienced a lot of positives and negatives. Losing my mother in December of 2019 was and still is the biggest obstacle I’ve faced. I based the album around “The Grief Suite” a suite I wrote based on my feelings during the grieving process after losing my Mom. The tunes proceeding the suite are “Yorkshire Street” which was written for my Yorkshire Terrier Macy and “Riley” a tune I wrote for my beautiful girlfriend. I chose to finish the album with John Coltrane’s “Resolution” from his famous project “Love Supreme”. Not only does the title really finish off the album but the energy and melody really caps off the project.” (https://www.ryandevlinmusic.com/album) This set is a complete treasure from beginning to end. Devlin is a fantastic saxophonist and everyone gives their total best. Click here to listen to the second movement from the Grief Suite – Depression Devlin’s tribute to his mother.
Benito Gonzalez – Sing To The World (Rainy Days): “Emerging Piano Talent Benito Gonzalez Releases his Fifth Recording of Originals: the Inspired, Moving, Dancing Sing to the World on St. Petersburg, Russia-based Rainy Days Records. With propulsive pulse and Afro-Latin percussive drive, Benito Gonzalez places rhythm at the core of his exhilarating new album, Sing to the World, set for a May 14 release. All of the ten songs on his fifth album, and first released on the St. Petersburg, Russia label Rainy Days Records, combine to create a sense of wonder and enchantment as Gonzalez takes a stellar step into the future of his jazz journey. He’s assembled an impressive team of collaborators, including Christian McBride, Essiet Okon Essiet, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and Nicholas Payton as well as rising stars Russian drummer Sasha Mashin, trumpeter Josh Evans and saxophonist Makar Kashitsyn. Sing to The World is a musical exploration of the concept of freedom that recognizes the dignity of us all as individuals. Music is the most powerful tool we have to make a change in the world, uniting as one outside of cultural or religious differences. We are living in a world where all are searching for freedom because its inherently valuable role in human progress. Sing to the World is about this universal search for freedom, about being present, being aware, and trying to allow the moment to come to us.” (https://rainydaysrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sing-to-the-world) Click here to listen to two songs in this powerful set.
Lunar Octet – Convergence (Summit): ““More than 25 years have passed since Lunar Octet captured their funky brand of Afro-Latin groove on their first (and only) album, Highway Fun. The group now reunites for their sophomore release, Convergence (Summit), the album’s title describing their committed commingling of rhythms and styles as well as the gathering of the musicians, who had since gone their separate ways. First forming in the Ann Arbor/Detroit metro area in 1984, Lunar Octet (then known as the Lunar Glee Club), evolved from an Afrobeat jam band to a sophisticated jazz outfit with globe-spanning influences, thanks in large part to the writing and arranging of saxophonist Steven Hiltner. Most of the original crew, plus two new members — pianist Keaton Royer and second percussionist Olman Piedra — combine their skills on Convergence’s 14 sizzling tracks, a mix of brass-fueled samba, salsa, mambo and Afrobeat with a decidedly funky feel. Brandon Cooper’s flugelhorn sounds a bold introduction to “Samba Diabolico,” and he’s joined on the frontline by altoist Hiltner and tenorist Paul Vornhagen (also heard on soprano sax and alto clarinet). Pianist Royer offers a brisk and exciting solo, bolstered by bassist Jeff Dalton, drummer Jon Krosnick and the twin percussion of Piedra and Aron Kaufman. Building in intensity, the track proves Lunar Octet haven’t waned a bit in the decades since their previous recording.” (Brian Zimmerman for JAZZIZ Magazine) This set is a total treat! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.
Pat Metheny – Road To The Sun (Modern Music) – Pat Metheny’s nearly 50-year career has always balanced the tension between two developmental poles: refining and expanding the technical and aesthetic reaches of his virtuosic yet lushly romantic “voice” on the guitar, and constructing a sprawling, ever-evolving compositional language that melds harmonic and rhythmic sophistication with approachability, steely honesty, and cinematic drama. Road to the Sun, Metheny’s debut offering for BMG’s Modern Music imprint, marks the guitarist/composer’s first deep dive into composing classical music for the guitar. The set consists of two long suites. The first half is devoted to the four-movement Four Paths of Light, written for and performed by Grammy-winning classical guitar sensation Jason Vieaux, whose recordings embrace the classical guitar canon but also expand it to include modernists such as Astor Piazzolla, Baden Powell, and Ernst Mahle…. The six-movement title suite was composed for and performed by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, comprising John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, and Matthew Greif. Their signature, too, is one of crossover. Their concerts and recordings engage everything from classical, flamenco, and swing to bluegrass flatpicking, rockabilly, and even death metal. As a whole, this work is driven by their robust chromatic and rhythmic interplay, joining the classical impressionism of Debussy and Ravel to Django Reinhardt’s finger-popping approach in wedding Eastern European folk music to jazz. The call-and-response element is episodic in the first movement, at once hypnotic and beguiling. It reflects the influence of canonical classical composers such as Francisco Tárrega or Federico Moreno Torroba, before a sprightly Brazilian schema enters….before deft flamenco rhythms and sharp-edged arpeggios suddenly appear to seamlessly morph into pastoral vignettes. Part four is constructed of interlocking guitar glissandi floating through minor and augmented key signatures before woody physical percussion and descending scraped strings introduce a feeling of disorientation and dislocation. In the fifth movement, Metheny’s hyperkinetic strumming joins the quartet’s. His tone is unmistakable as he coaxes euphoric jazz — complete with bent strings, tight arpeggios, and expanded tonalities — to emerge from folk and pop harmonies amid fluid rhythmic contrapuntal exchanges with the quartet. The set-closer is a solo reading of Arvo Pärt’s piano piece Fur Alina, played solo by Metheny on the 42-string, multi-neck Pikasso I guitar. Its spacious drama, tri-tone melodic structure, and elegant drones are somber and resonant. Road to the Sun showcases Metheny’s developed musical hallmarks in compelling new and bravely wrought compositions, expertly performed by kindred spirits and modern masters.” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/pat-metheny-road-to-the-sun-mw0003457541) Beautiful work altogether. Click here to listen to samples of the music.
Chris Potter – Sunrise Reprise (Edition): “One of the most prolific improvisers of his generation returns with the follow up to his 2019 Circuits album: a powerful and cathartic record featuring keyboardist James Francies and drummer Eric Harland. In Sept 2020, a small window emerged from the restrictions and saw an opportunity to record ‘Sunrise Reprise’ with his Circuits trio. It was the first time anyone in the group had recorded with other musicians in months, and for prolific musicians such as these, it resulted in an outpouring of collective creativity, energy, and spirit. The session was a huge release from the build-up of tension over the previous months, as Chris explains; “All of a sudden we’re in the studio. It felt such a release, a sense of freedom to create and to express ourselves collectively. It’s this, that has been the central part of this album – it’s about the trio, our shared energy, reflecting our own thoughts and feelings from all that’s going on in the world. Eric, James, and I really needed to PLAY, to try to put into music all the intense feelings of the previous few months. The close bond we had developed playing this music together on the road led to what we felt as a cathartic musical experience in the studio, documented in one very special evening”. (Chris Potter ) Click here to listen to a sample of a song from this disc.
The RJ Spangler Band – Live At The Scarab Club Series (Eastlawn): This gig was performed in November of 2017 as a remembrance of Louis Jordan. Dan Devins was the lead singer and was supported by Keith Kaminski (tenor sax), Godde Whche III (bari & alto sax), James O’Donnell (trumpet, backup singer), Tbone Paxton (trombone, lead vocals), Matt LaRusso (guitar), Jeff Curry (bass) and RJ Spangler (drums, backing vocals). The set was drawn from Jordan’s sets ranging from “Let The Good Times Roll” and “Blue Light Boogie” to “Caldonia” an “I Want You To Be My Baby”. Everyone works hard and the audience surely had fun. This disc would be a nice remembrance of the gig itself, but they’re no match for Jordan. That being said it’s the thought that counts. Click here to check out the songs on this disc.