New Jazz Releases – 02/05/2024

Reggie Quinerly

This is Folk Marathon week at WTJU, so tune in and please contribute to keeping community radio strong.

This week’s offerings are anchored by a brilliant set by drummer Reggie Quinerly and a couple of strong releases from the mid-west from Rob Dixon / Steve Allee and Mark Lipson.  Amazingly octogenarian icon Abdullah Ibrahim has released another strong set.

Tony Jones and Jessica Jones – Hearing Into The Future (Reva Records, released 1/26/2024). Tony Jones – tenor saxophone, Jessica Jones – piano / tenor saxophone.

Forty years of collaboration fuel this husband and wife duo, both tenor players.  For this release, Jessica Jones plays piano on six tunes and she and Tony Jones duet on tenor for the seventh.  Two selections are composed by Tony and another three by Jessica.  This a comfortable outing with significant chops in evidence.

Rob Dixon / Steve Allee Quintet Featuring Amanda King and Derrick Gardner – Standards Deluxe (Self Produced, released 01/26/2024).  Derrick Gardner – trumpet, Rob Dixon – tenor saxophone / soprano saxophone, Steve Allee – piano, Nick Tucker – bass, Greg Artry – drums, Kenny Phelps – drums, Amanda King – vocals.

Indianapolis saxophonist Rob Dixon (Charlie Ballentine, Derrick Gardner, Mike Clark) and pianist Steve Allee (Rufus Reid) have produced two records in one – the first a saxophone – piano – bass – drums quartet with vocalist Ananda King on tracks 1 – 6, and the second a hard bop quintet with the addition of trumpeter Derrick Gardner to the quartet on tracks 7 – 12.  I like both sets a lot.  Amanda King sings with a smile in her voice and the quartet is a perfect match for her with solid support punctuated by stirring solo work from the two leaders.  The second half is the latest strong outing by Gardner following 2022’s Pan Africa by Derrick Gardner and The Jazz Prophets (previewed 01/16/2023) and 2023s Septology – The Black Forest Sessions by the Canadian Jazz Collective (previewed 04/03/2023) – both highly recommended.  Come for the singing and stay for the hard bop… or vice versa, your choice, but do check it out.

Satoko FujIi – Jet Black (Libra Records, released 01/26/2024). Satoko FujiI – piano, Takashi Sugawa – bass, Ittetsu Takemura – drums.

In her rich and varied discography, pianist / composer Satoko Fujii regularly returns to the piano trio format and this new release reprises her Tokyo Trio three years since their Moon On The Lake debut.  Dan McClenaghan wrote on AllAbout Jazz, “Jet Black runs the gamut from three-way melees to near-subliminal creakings and moans—haunted house sounds interspersed with rumbles in the alleyways. When the tag avant-garde is applied to piano players, the name Cecil Taylor often comes up. In her way, Fujii is even freer than Taylor, with ivory-pounding cacophonies interspersed with beautiful lyricism and whispered asides. She plays inside the piano, making unidentifiable sounds, bassist Takashi Sugawa bows elastic, antagonistic drones and drummer Ittetsu Takemura slams the dumpster lid and knocks the iron pot off the countertop and down to the floor, while Fujji hits the piano keys as if it were burning hot, giving off sparks in the process. The question arises: Is it music? A quarter century of listening to Fujii says it most certainly is—the oddest, most stimulating kind of music. Challenging, perhaps, but offering huge rewards for those who are willing to go for the immersion into Fujii’s musical mind.”  Yup challenging, but rewarding.

The Yussef Dayes Experience – Live From Malibu (Brownswood Records, released 01/26/2024).  Venna – saxophone, Rocco Palladino – bass, Elijah Fox – keyboards, Yussef Dayes – drums, Alexander Bourt – percussion.

The new audio release by Yussef Dates comes from a previously released YouTube video.  The repertoire comes from the extremely well-received 2023 release Black Classical Music.  Like the studio release, the vibe is meditative and the sound is filled with dreamy synth and guitar sounds underpinned by chattering percussion.

Arve Henriksen, Harmen Fraanje – Touch of Time (ECM, released 01/26/2024).  Arve Henriksen – trumpet / electronics, Harmen Fraanje – piano.

Introduced in 2019 at an ECM 50th Anniversary celebration, Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje have developed a productive partnership resulting in this new release.  Nick Lea wrote on Jazz Views, “Coupled with [trumpeter Henriksen’s] control of the instrument, at times sounding more the traditional Japanese shakuhachi than a brass instrument, the timbral range is extraordinary.  With Fraanje’s economical touch at the piano there is a wonderful balance between shared melodic duties and accompaniment.  The depth of feeling that the pianist brings to the music seems to allow Henriksen’s trumpet notes to hang in the air, supported by the gossamer light phrases from the hammers vibrating the strings of the piano, and this is no more evident than on the closing Passing on the Past.  This is a beautiful album that quietly weaves its magic over ten compositions that have much to say and do so in hushed tones. An album for those reflective moments when time stands still.”  Quiet in a very ECM way.

Abdullah Ibrahim – “3” (Brownswood Recordings, released 01/26/2024).  Cleave Guyton Jr, – flute / piccolo, Abdullah Ibrahim – piano, Noah Jackson – bass / cello.

At 89, iconic South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim has captured the sound of his 2023 live tour with the new release “3”.  The set is broken into two parts – Volume 1 was recorded without an audience before his concert at London’s Barbican Centre and Volume 2 captures the live concert itself.  With Ibrahim in the trio are members of his EKAYA band – bassist/cellist Noah Jackson and flutist Cleave Guyton Jr.  Predominately culled from Ibrahim’s extensive catalog of compositions oner the past seven decades, the live set also includes homages to his heroes – Ellington, Coltrane and Monk (Skippy is a highlight).  Stately and spare, Ibrahim’s playing epitomizes the authority that has made him an international treasure.  Still at the top of him game, this is a satisfying and important release.

Terry Adams – Terrible (Omnivore Records, released 01/26/2024).  Dave Gordon – trumpet, Roswell Russ – trombone, Tyrone Hill – trombone, Donn Adams – trombone, Marshall Allen – alto saxophone / flute, Jim Hoke – flute / soprano saxophone / alto saxophone / harmonica, Knoel Scott – alto saxophone / flute, Terry Adams – piano / DX7 / dulcitone / harmonica / vocals, Johnny Spampinato – guitar, John Sebastian – guitar, Joey Spampinato – bass, Greg Cohen – bass, Tom Ardolino – drums, Bobby Previte – drums.

Former NRBQ pianist / composer / vocalist Terry Adams has rereleased an eclectic 1995 jazz set that featured multi-reediest Marshall Allen, trombonist Tyrone Hill and trumpeter Dave Gordon from Sun Ra’s ensemble along side avant-trombonist Roswell Rudd plus bassist Joey Spampinato and drummer Tom Ardolino then members of NRBQ.  Every tune starts with a new line up from a trio of Adams, bassist Greg Cohen (John Zorn, Ornette Coleman, Marty Ehrlich), and drummer Bobby Previte (Jane Ira Bloom, Charlie Hunter) performing NRBQ’s Yes, Yes, Yes to a dectet with trumpet, two trombones, three flutes and Adams on harmonica on the meditative Little One.  Dave Linn wrote on AllAbout Jazz, “Adams shows his bop chops with Say When, an up-tempo track with driving piano and drums supported by five horns and flute. Scott’s alto and Gordon’s trumpet get to solo, while Brother showcases [Knoel] Scott on soprano in a quartet setting.  Not surprisingly, there are a few Monk-influenced tracks here. Hilda is a simple melody played as a quartet. Rudd on trombone and Adams are the primary soloists. I Feel Lucky is another Monk-style track, both in melody and approach. It features NRBQ with Hill’s trombone and Gordon’s trumpet… This is an engaging and eclectic potpourri of music and styles.”

Mark Lipson – Launch Control (Detroit Composers Collective, released 01/22/2024).  John Douglas – trumpet / flugelhorn, Vincent Chandler – trombone, Rafael Leafar – tenor saxophone / soprano saxophone, Ian Finkelstein – piano, Michael Jellick – piano, Jeff Pedraz – bass, Jesse Kramer – drums, Mark Lipson – percussion, Alberto Nacif – congas.

Mark Lipson is a Detroit drummer / composer who has released five discs on the Detroit Composers Collective label.  A solid post-bop outing featuring six tunes by band members Jellick, Chandler and Lipson plus one by the late Brad Felt.  The title tune is a fiery romp featuring ecstatic runs by pianist Ian Finkelstein, trumpeter John Douglas and saxophonist Rafael Leafer.  The Boss is a swinging mambo by trombonist Vincent Chandler with another high-flying solo from Finklestein and a fine star turn from bassist Jeff Pedraz over stop time comping from the pianist.  Jazz from the Motor City!

Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke – Lean In (Bonus Tracks) (Edition Records, released 01/19/2024).  Gretchen Parlato – vocals / percussion, Lionel Loueke – guitar / vocals / percussion.

Parlato and Loueke’s Grammy-nominated Lean In was frequently mentioned in lists of the best jazz releases of 2023 and rightly so, the chemistry between these fine players is compelling.  Edition Records has now released two more satisfying selections from these sessions.

Reggie Quinerly – The Thousandth Scholar (Redefinition Music, released 01/19/2024).  Manuel Valera – piano, Matt Brewer – bass, Reggie Quinerly – drums, Samuel Torres – percussion.

Drummer Reggie Quinerly (Eric Reed, Peter Smith) joins forces with the commanding pianist Manuel Valera whose outstanding release Vessel was previewed 07/10/2023 and who arranged this set of Quinery compositions.  This is a driving set powered by Valera’s facile pianism.  Chris May wrote in AllAboutJazz, “The new album has an Afro-Caribbean / Latin theme, subtle at times, upfront at others. And it cooks… Valera has named his primary influences as Bill Evans, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett. This embrace of the US piano tradition contributes to the album’s balance of Latin and straight-ahead jazz, which is all the more engaging for being so uncalculated. Ray’s Tune is barely filtered mambo with some terrific breaks from Torres and an in-the-tradition ostinato from Valera. Folk Song and Skain’s Blues also wear their Latin origins on their sleeves. Elsewhere we are talking Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘Spanish tinge’ with the accent on tinge.”  Of the large number of January releases, this is one of the best.

Vanisha Gould & Chris McCarthy – Life’s A Gig (Fish Sound New Talent, released 01/12/2024).  Chris McCarthy – piano, Kayla Williams – viola, Vanisha Gould – vocals.

With the addition of viola on two tunes, this is primarily a record of piano – vocal duets ably performed by a sympathetic pair of players.

Johnny Griffin – Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Gearbox Records, released 11/17/2023).  Johnny Griffin – tenor saxophone, Stan Tracey – piano, Malcom Cecil – bass, Jackie Dougan – drums.

Tenorist Johnny Griffin made his Blue Note debut in 1957, spent a couple of years with the Jazz Messengers, another couple with Monk and then decamped to France in 1963.  His studio production then dropped off although we have some live recordings to fill in the gaps.  This set was recorded with a British rhythm section at Ronnie Scott’s legendary club in London in 1964.  Griffin is in fine form, blowing hard and fast in commanding performances.  (Back Home In) Indiana, in particular, is taken at a blistering pace and he solos through all 12 keys in an harmonic tour-de-force.  An important live record of a tenor giant at his peak.

Yosef Gutman Featuring Lionel Loueke – Soul Song(Soul Song Records, released 06/23/2023).  Omri Mor – piano, Lionel Loueke – guitar, Yosef Gutman – bass, Ofri Nehemya – drums.

South African bassist Yosef Gutman studied at Berklee and formed a performing bond with fellow-student guitarist Lionel Loueke.  While Loueke went on to great renown, Gutman forged a life as an Israeli tech entrepreneur.  This release marks his return to music and a renewal of his relationship with Loueke.  It’s a joyful affair and while the compositions are by Gutman or come from his Hassidic tradition, the expression is largely Loueke’s.  Peter Gamble wrote on Jazz Journal, “The emphasis is on melody, as evident in the simple but attractive themes supplied by the leader. The rhythmic emphasis owes much to Africa (Loueke comes from Benin) although this is not exclusive in these 14 compositions.  There is not an ugly note or phrase to behold: the guitarist’s lines are cleanliness personified and he favours an amplified acoustic. This approach to performance is mirrored by the warming sounds from the pianist. The leader on the whole prefers to take a back seat, letting his fellow musicians and his tunes do the talking for him.  Some may find this music a little too basic for their jazz-orientated ears but your reviewer found it a charming experience.”

The Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective – Fiesta At Caroga (JGB Music, released 04/20/2023).  Eric Devey – trumpet, Ben Weisger – trombone, Brian Stark – tenor saxophone, Jose Guzman – guitar, Ian Stewart – bass, Stephen Busath – percussion, Sebastian Nassar – percussion, Brian Shank-percussion.

This eight-piece Illinois collective was initiated by Puerto Rican guitarist Jose Guzman who wrote all the compositions.  This is a pretty sedate affair with a delicate percussion base.  Thierry De Clemensat wrote of Paris Move, “The music … knows how to be mysterious, tender, or poetic. José Guzmán, a guitarist as impressive as he is discreet within the group, presents remarkably intelligent compositions that prove that Afro-Cuban music in its jazz form still has many secrets to reveal to us.”  Don’t expect screaming Latin brass and smoking tempos, but settle in for a gentle ride.

…and congratulations to the 2024 GRAMMY Winners:

Best Jazz Performance. “Tight,” Samara Joy (A star in the making)

Best Jazz Vocal Album. “How Love Begins,” Nicole Zuraitis (Good choice)

Best Jazz Instrumental Album. “The Winds of Change,” Billy Childs (Great disc!)

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. “Basie Swings the Blues,” The Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scotty Barnhart (I was rooting for Dynamic Maximum Tension, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society) 

Best Latin Jazz Album. “El Arte Del Bolero Vol. 2,” Miguel Zenón and Luis Perdomo (Wonderful!!)

Best Alternative Jazz Album. “The Omnichord Real Book,” Meshell Ndegeocello

Remember the Folk Marathon this week!

Russell Perry, Jazz at 100 Now!

Choosing your favorite musicians is like getting to pick your own parents. In a very real way you are now one of their descendants.”Ted Gioia  


Become a Sponsor

Underwriting WTJU is a way to broadly share information about your business. It’s also a way for your business or organization to gain community-wide recognition for your support of WTJU’s community mission.

Underwrite a Program


Your gift nourishes our community and helps bring people together through music.

Underwrite a Program