New Jazz Adds – 9/15/2020
Fabian Almazan – Alcanza (Biophilia):”Cuban-American pianist/composer Fabian Almazan found his musical roots as a child in Havana where he first became involved in the classical piano tradition. Most recently, Almazan can be heard in such films as Harriet, Chi-Raq, Red Tails and Miracle at St Anna. During the completion of his jazz piano bachelor’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music, Almazan immersed himself in the realm of orchestral composition studying instrumentation and orchestration with Mr. Giampaolo Bracali. Almazan is the founder and director of Biophilia Records. Biophilia means “an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems.” Click here for a short piece from this release.
Omer Avital – Suite From The East (Anzic): “Duke Ellington made Far East Suite in 1966. Omer Avital’s Suite of the East was recorded in 2006 but not released until now. The differences between the two albums reveal how the jazz art form evolved over 40 years. Far East Suite is sophisticated orchestral American jazz with exotic colorations and subtle inflections drawn from Ellington’s exposure to Eastern cultures on a State Department tour. Avital’s album is a deep organic fusion of Middle Eastern and North African music with current cutting-edge jazz. It is not coincidental that Avital’s band contains both Israelis (the bassist-leader, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, pianist Omer Klein) and Americans (tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, drummer Daniel Freedman). Jazz has globalized. The title track first sounds like an ancient, wheeling folkdance. When Frahm and Cohen blast their way into it, it suddenly sounds like jazz, never mind the provocatively unfamiliar context. Avital began all seven compositions during a three-year stay in Israel and finished them in New York. Pieces like “The Mountain Top” and “Free Forever” begin with incantatory melodies and throbbing rhythmic patterns that are foreign until you feel their universal human celebration, and notice how natural they sound with jazz phrasing. Frahm and Cohen are players who come to every project loaded with ideas. Here they are clearly inspired and energized. Frahm tears up “Free Forever” from the inside. On “The Mountain Top,” Cohen proves he is an original thinker. He thinks in flaming filigrees. The common themes that unify this music are mostly infectious with vitality and joy, but there are pensive moments. Avital’s solo, “Bass Meditation (on the possibility for peace in the Middle East),” is a moving six-minute narrative, historical and personal. “Sinai Memories” is a lilting mysterious melody, beautifully unfolded by Klein.” (https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/omer-avital-suite-of-the-east/) This is, indeed, a remarkable performance. Click here to listen to the title song.
Bright Dog Red – Something’ Comes Along (Ropeadope): “Bright Dog Red (BDR), an improvising collective from Albany, New York, will release Somethin’ Comes Along…the ensemble’s third, and most ambitious, release….“Starting as a jazz-meets-hip-hop jam band with a loosely-defined membership, Bright Dog Red has become a fixture on the NYC jazz and improvisation scene” (Jazz Journal). The group’s “fiery, free-flowing and immersive” (Glide Magazine) sets have generated comparisons to “Mahavishnu Orchestra meets Digable Planets” (Paul Schulman) and “electronic Ahmad Jamal” (Don Lucoff). Founded by drummer and composer Joe Pignato, BDR is comprised of a rotating cast of players. Recent performances have featured Eric Person, (alto and soprano saxes), Mike LaBombard (tenor sax), Tyreek Jackson (guitar and bass), Cody Davies (electronics), Anthony Berman (bass), and Matt Coonan (poetry and freestyling). (https://brightdogred.com/) Click here and scroll down to listen to the opening song.
Anat Cohen – Claroscuro (Anzic): “Anat Cohen – celebrated the world over for her expressive virtuosity on clarinet and saxophone, not to mention the sheer joie de vivre in her charismatic stage presence – presents the latest record of her evolution with Claroscuro, her sixth album as a bandleader. Claroscuro takes it’s title from the Spanish word describing the play of light and shade (chiaroscuro in Italian). The album ranges from deliciously buoyant dances to darkly lyrical ballads, with live-in-the-studio spontaneity a priority; moreover, Claroscuro showcases Cohen’s fluency in a global set of styles, from the creolized chanson of New Orleans and the evergreen swing of an Artie Shaw tune to African grooves and Brazilian choro, samba and more. Cohen was joined in the studio by her ace working band – pianist Jason Lindner, double-bassist Joe Martin and drummer Daniel Freedman – as well as special guests: trombonist/vocalist Wycliffe Gordon, percussionist Gilmar Gomes and star clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera.” (https://www.amazon.com/Claroscuro-ANAT-COHEN/dp/B008BUOBL0) I couldn’t agree more! Cohen’s performance is sensational throughout and the variety is really fine. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of four of the eleven songs on this disc.
Maria Grand – Magdalena (Biophilia): This was Maria Grand’s first full length release and was originally released in 2018. “Her guiding intent is to explore modern family relationships through the lens of Egyptian and early Christian myths, connecting them to the pioneering work of family therapist Virginia Satir. Proceeding from the conviction that “healing families heals humanity,” Grand conceives a set of music within “a feminine non-hierarchical power structure,” she explains. “This means that the traditional form of solos is exploded into a more collective conversation.” In the mercurial, asymmetric rhythms and flowing dialogue of Grand and her core trio with bassist Rashaan Carter and drummer Jeremy Dutton, we hear the musical analogue of two parents and a child. This trio dynamic is manifest most clearly on “TI. Isis,” “TII. María” and “TIII. Magdalena,” each constructed around a particular triad and inspired by three mythical women who serve “as examples of a woman’s power,” Grand says. These pieces also contain layers of symbolism: on “TI. Isis,” as Grand states in the liner notes, “The melody has every note that exists in a chromatic scale except for one, the piece that Isis didn’t find after Osiris died.” The guests appearing on Magdalena serve to vary the sound and the relational dynamic, “providing more complex domestic structures to the music,” Grand offers. Pianist David Bryant, who played a brilliant role on Tetrawind, lends bracing and mysterious harmonic aspects to five tracks. On the duet piece “Imani/Walk by,” inspired by vocalist and composer Imani Uzuri, we hear from pianist and Biophilia founder/director Fabian Almazan, who interprets the song with gradually increasing adventurism. We also hear Grand stepping away from the saxophone to sing. “I’ve always written songs with lyrics,” she says, “and I don’t see that as fundamentally different from the instrumental music. For me it’s about balance: it’s a more vulnerable and fragile part of my expression.” (https://mariagrand.bandcamp.com/) The players are María Grand (tenor sax); Jasmine Wilson (spoken word); Amani Fela (spoken word); Mary Halvorson (electric guitar); David Bryant (piano); Fabian Almazan (piano); Rashaan Carter (acoustic bass); and Jeremy Dutton (drums). Click here to listen to samples of several of the songs on this disc.
Jazz At Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis – The Ever Fonky Lowdown (Blue Engine): “Wynton Marsalis has just released his latest album, a sprawling, 53-track jazz odyssey called The Ever Fonky Lowdown. The internationally renowned trumpeter and composer describes the extended, conceptual composition as a “groundbreaking, satirical look at democratic freedom, abuse of power, racism and cultural corruption.”Performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Ever Fonky Lowdown features vocalists Christie Dashiell, Ashley Pezzotti, Camille Thurman and Doug Wamble. The album also includes narration by actor Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Treme, Jack Ryan), who plays the role of the main character “Mr. Game,” whose commentary throughout the record “reveals the ‘hustle’ that keeps us at each other’s throats and prevents us from working together to build a more equitable and friendly world,” according to a press release. Musically, the record is a “funky jazz parable” that draws from the music of Marsalis’s father, Ellis Marsalis, and New Orleans drummer and composer James Black in the 1960s, along with the funk he enjoyed in the ’70s and the modern jazz he has played and taught for the last several decades. It’s the latest Marsalis work to “directly address the irresistible cocktail of deception, racism, greed and gullibility that subverts the global fight for human rights and corrupts the possibilities and promise of democracy in America and around the world.” (https://jazz.fm/wynton-marsalis-the-ever-fonky-lowdown-jlco-new-album/) Given the size and expense of this release, we have only received a four song slice, but it’s a wonderful sample. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples from the entire set.
Barrett Martin Group – Scattered Diamonds (Sunyata): “Scattered Diamonds is the 9th studio album from Latin Grammy-winning producer, composer, percussionist, and writer, Barrett Martin. This time around, Barrett is featuring his collaborations with artists from around the world, from countries such as Iraq, India, Senegal, and Ghana, and including well-known rock and jazz musicians from Seattle, WA and Santa Fe, NM. These songs are as diverse as the guests themselves, and feature Barrett’s original compositional style, built around his visceral drumming and global percussion techniques. As Barrett describes it in his own words: Scattered Diamonds is a collection of my best songs and collaborations with friends from around the world. The album represents my global musical influences, and it seems particularly timely now, because they feature musicians and singers from the Middle East, West Africa, and India, as well as several jazz and rock musicians, who I have worked with over the years. Scattered Diamonds encapsulates all of these special guests and their immense talents, organized into one concise album. Each of these songs is a diamond in their unique example of how music can be expressed globally, and I think it’s my favorite album so far – it’s certainly the most adventurous!”. Barrett has also been promoting his two books, The Singing Earth and The Way Of The Zen Cowboy (both available as audiobook, paperback, E-Book, and Kindle), and he will be embarking on a One-Man Storytelling Tour in 2021. At the shows, he will be telling stories from his books, performing on drums and multiple percussion instruments, and presenting a slideshow of his photos from 6 continents, over the course of 30 years. The guest artists are Rahim Alhaj (Grammy-Nominated Iraqi oud master), Seth Amoaku (Ghanaian master drummer), Peter Buck (Grammy-winning guitarist for R.E.M.), Dave Carter (trumpet and original member of the Barrett Martin Group), Thione Diop (Senegalese drum master), Paul Fischer (Seattle-based guitarist), Mehnaz Hoosein (Hindustani singer from Mumbai, India), Wayne Horvitz (renowned Jazz keyboardist and composer), Kanoa Kaluhiwa (New Mexico-based saxophonist), Curtis Macdonald (New York-based saxophonist), John Rangel (New Mexico-based pianist), Skerik (Seattle-based saxophonist), Hans Teuber (Seattle-based saxophonist), Kim Thayil (Grammy-Winning guitarist for Soundgarden) and Ben Thomas (Seattle-based vibraphonist). Terrific melodies and infectious beats! Absolutely fantastic! Click here to listen to the opening song on this disc.
Matthew Shipp Trio – The Unidentifiable (ESP): “Starting in the bebop era, the piano-bass-drums lineup has been the most classic jazz format in which the piano is featured, accumulating the weight of history and critical expectations. In this setting, a non-mainstream player such as Shipp can infiltrate Newport Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and other Establishment bastions in a familiar format and then unleash his ideas on audiences that might not normally be exposed to his style. Thanks to hearing it in the communal language of the piano trio, they can better understand the message the Matthew Shipp Trio has to deliver: “Mr. Shipp’s predilection for finding fertile ground between accessibility and abstraction,” as Larry Blumenfeld wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Shipp says, “The piano trio is such a basic configuration in jazz, and it is an honor to take a well-explored area and apply my imagination to it to see where we can go—it helps that my trio mates are great.” Shipp, Bisio, and Baker convened at Shipp’s favorite recording venue last year looking to pursue a new direction. The result is both distinctively Shippian yet a further evolution of the group’s sound.” Shipp’s rhythm section includes Michael Bisio (bass) and Newman Taylor Baker (drums). Click here to listen to “The Unidentifiable” from this release.
Jose Rizo’s Mongorama – Mariposas Cantan (Saungu): “The making of this cd was a journey that took us through many emotions full of gratitude, creativity, friendship, fun times, hard work, and the mourning of one of our brother musicians, Ramon Banda. To make it more challenging, the 2020 year of the Covid 19 pandemic came our way also. Nevertheless, we kept our determination to complete this project in the best possible quality in order to document these amazing musicians and for our listeners and enthusiast of jazz, Latin jazz and salsa. Here, are snippets of four of twelve tunes. Mambo Mindoro, Mariposas Cantan, Como Fue, and Watermelon Man (had to have some fun). Enjoy!…..Leticia V. Rizo (Co-Executive Producer)” Click here to listen to samples of four songs on this disc.
Linda May Han Oh – Aventurine (Biophilia): “Aventurine is a translucent mineral, a type of quartz with a shimmering effect, or “adventurescence”. It is most commonly found in the color green. It has been known to symbolize creativity, opportunity and evolution. Each one of these compositions are dear to me, connected to integral moments of my life and powerful memories that I keep close at hand. While a handful of these compositions were started and completed within the last few years, the lifetime some of these pieces span ten to thirteen years. Over the years the music has evolved with each performance and the arrangements have been constantly development and refined, to a point where I consider them living, breathing entities that have finally matured into a state where they are comfortable in their own skin. The first incarnation of this repertoire began at Manhattan School of Music where I first began studying orchestration and composition seriously. I later took advantage of the Institute of Audio Research student program which enabled me to record rough demos with their student engineers in order to further workshop the music. Some of this music was written and refined during my 2012 Jazz Gallery Commission and since then I have been adding more to the repertoire. The music has expanded and evolved into what it is now.” (Linda May Han Oh) Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.
The Flying Horse Big Band – Florida Rays (Flying Horse): “Orlando’s own Flying Horse Big Band, on their seventh release, pay tribute to perhaps the city’s biggest musical icon, Ray Charles, on this expansive outing directed by Jeff Rupert, a tenor saxophonist who doesn’t play on the album, but conducts the band, Rupert is also an educator, serving as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Central Florida…. Rob Paparozzi gets the most vocal work, singing on six of the eleven vocally rendered tunes (two are instrumental). Paparozzi also plays harmonica and his litany stretches to the Original Blues Brothers Band and Blood, Sweat and Tears, among others. Fellow New Jersey resident Vance Villastrigo takes the lead on three, pairing with Paparozzi on “It Should’ve Been Me.” To this writer, the most striking performances come from Florida native and Orlando resident DaVonda Simmons who leads incredibly soulful takes on “Lonely Avenue” and “What’d I Say” as well as duetting with Paparozzi on “Hit the Road, Jack.” Simmons is a mainstay in the Orlando music scene and another Orlando resident, Kristian Dentley, is the fourth vocalist, performing only on “(It’s Not Easy) Bein’ Green.” He is best known for his work with the vocal group, Take Six. Ray Charles music – big, bright, brassy, and irresistible.” (https://www.makingascene.org/the-flying-horse-big-band-florida-rays/) Click here and scroll way down to listen to the songs on this disc.
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra – The Latin Jazz Project (Artist Share): “The Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO) has become a household name for salsa lovers and Latin jazz enthusiasts over the years. Founded in the early 2000s by bandleader Oscar Hernández and producer Aaron Levinson, SHO has accumulated several Grammy nominations and three Grammy Awards…. Known for their “dedication to the sounds of the barrio (Spanish Harlem NYC)” and their “mission to keep the musical legacy of salsa dura (hard salsa) alive,” SHO has become one of the standard representations of the New York style of salsa music. Although their previous albums offered brief moments of SHO’s mastery in Latin jazz, their newest release, The Latin Jazz Project—produced by musical director Oscar Hernandez and co-producer Doug Beavers—is a full-blown Latin jazz excursion illustrating the orchestra’s command and expertise in this music genre. Joined by prominent guest jazz artists such as Dave Liebman, Bob Mintzer, Miguel Zenon, Kurt Elling, Tom Harrell, Jimmy Haslip, Jonathan Powell, Michael Rodrigeuz, Joe Locke, and Bob Franceschini, The Latin Jazz Project offers a collection of songs that blends SHO’s signature salsa dura sound with jazz aesthetics. The song selections include energetic uptempo renderings of “Invitation” and “Round Midnight,” as well as temperate and savory renditions of “Bobo” and “Silent Prayers” which illustrate SHO’s wide palate of musical dynamic expressions… Ultimately, The Latin Jazz Project is an intriguing album that serves as a superlative example of what happens when Latin jazz sensibilities are coupled with the jazz idiom.” (https://blackgrooves.org/spanish-harlem-orchestra-the-latin-jazz-project/) Click here to listen to a song from this disc.