New Jazz Releases – 01/15/2024

Gerald Cannon

As we start a new year, several new releases solidly in the post-bop mainstream have caught my attention – Gerald Cannon celebrating the music of Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner, Blue Moods, a Posi-Tone Records all-star group, interpreting Duke Pearson’s tunes and new compositions from Dutch pianist Marius Van Den Brink with a NY band highlighting Sean Jones and Stacy Dillard.  To my delight, my Jazz at 100 Now! co-host Steve Harris has introduced me to Iceland jazzlegend Tómas R. Einarsson a powerful bassist and bandleader.

Gerald Cannon – Live at Dizzy’s Club: The Music of Elvin & MCCoy (Woodneck Records, releases 01/18/2024).  Eddie Henderson – trumpet, Steve Turre – trombone, Sherman Irby – alto saxophone, Joe Lovano – tenor saxophone, Dave Kikoski – piano, Gerald Cannon – bass, Lenny White – drums.

Bassist Gerald Cannon (recently Eddie Henderson, Ken Fowser, Willie Jones III, Michael Dease) assembled a one-off all-star band for a date at Dizzy’s (Jazz at Lincoln Center) to celebrate the music of Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner, in whose bands he spent 9 years (Jones) and14 years (Tyner).  The front line is trumpeter Eddie Henderson, trombonist Steve Turre, altoist Sherman Irby, tenorist Joe Lovano with pianist David Kikoski and drummer Lenny White in the rhythm section. Only in New York, right?  While the disc bristles with rousing four-horn ensemble work on compositions by Jones and Tyner, the highlight for me was Cannon’s own ballad Three Elders which begins with an elegiac muted trumpet feature for Henderson followed by a beautiful set piece for Irby.  The third elder being remembered is pianist Larry Willis, a bandmate of Cannon’s in Roy Hargrove great turn-of-the-century band.  Keep this in mind as one of the best live records of 2024.

Noah Becker – Mode For Noah (Entour Records, releases 01/18/2024.)  Noah Becker – alto saxophone, Brent Jarvis – Rhodes, Kosma Busheiken – bass, Graham Villette – drums.

While this is the third release for alto saxophonist Noah Becker, he is new to me.  Becker is a solid saxophonist with a lyrical delivery playing a program of seven original tunes.

Marius Van Den Brink – New York Knock (Highline Music, released 01/14/2024). Sean Jones – trumpet, Stacy Dillard – saxophone, Marius Van Den Brink – piano / Rhodes / organ / guitar, Matt Penman – double bass, Willie Jones III – drums, Keita Ogawa – percussion with Michael Valeanu – guitar, Maurice ‘Mobetta’ Brown – trumpet, Taulant Mehmeti – guitar, Robert Edwards – trombone, Ara Dinkjian – oud, Ismail Lumanovski – clarinet, Tamer Pinarbasi – kanun, Panagiotis Andreou – electric bass, Engin Kaan Gunaydin – drums.

Dutch-born New York pianist Marius Van Den Brink has assembled a first-class NYC sextet for a set of ten original compositions, with trumpeter Sean Jones and saxophonist Stacy Dillard in the front line with bassist Matt Penman, drummer Willie Jones III and percussionist Keita Ozawa completing the rhythm section.  Thierry De Clemensat wrote on Paris Move, “New York Knock is a timeless album that wisely chose to showcase acoustic instruments. It could have existed twenty years earlier or twenty years later, shining with its qualities… Marius Van Den Brink manages to set aside his European culture, producing a very New York album. One would have to be crazy not to appreciate it, not to salute his talent as a composer and arranger.”  Both Jones and Dillard are on top of their game, nailing the unison passages like a front line from an old Blue Note release and soloing with beauty and invention.  Van Den Brink is a fine writer (whom Jones compares to Horace Silver) and this is a record to celebrate.

John Sinton – Colour & Book of Practitioners Vol. 2, Book W (FiP Recordings, released 01/12/2024).  Josh Sinton – baritone saxophone.

Josh Sinton (Nate Wooley, Ideal Bread) has released a second volume of etudes by Steve Lacy, performed on baritone sax.  I maximized my pleasure with smaller doses.

Charles Chen – Charles, Play (Cellar Music, released 01/12/2024). Ralph Moore – tenor saxophone, Charles Chen – piano, Peter Washington – bass, Kenny Washington – drums.

This new release is the debut for pianist Charles Chen who has surrounded himself with veterans.  Peter and Kenny Washington anchor the rhythm sections on several discs annually and have for three decades, but Ralph Moore has been harder to find.  He started recording in 1978 and moved to LA in 1995 to join the Tonight Show Band, since which time has recorded a small handful of dates – its good to hear him again.  This set includes four originals by the leader and five covers including a lovely piano trio version of the ballad These Foolish Things and a swinging rendition of Cedar Walton’s Simple Pleasure.

Andy Pratt – Trio (Thrift Girl Records, released 01/12/2023).  Andy Pratt – guitar / vocals, Joe Policastro – bass, Phil Gratteau – drums.

Chicago guitarist / vocalist Andy Pratt leads a lean trio through a program of nine standards.  Possessing an emotive and smooth voice and a Joe Pass inflected open guitar style, Pratt’s trio allows their tunes their own space without overplaying them.  Charlottesville fans will remember bassist Joe Policastro from his visit to town several years back.

Dave Stryker Trio with Bob Mintzer – Groove Street ( Strikezone Records, released 01/12/2024).  Bob Mintzer – tenor saxophone, Jared Gold – organ, Dave Stryker – guitar, McCenty Hunter – drums.

Guitarist Dave Stryker has joined forces with his old friend, saxophonist Bob Mintzer (a collaborator on 2017’s Stryking Ahead) and his day-to-day trio mates Jared Gold on organ and McClenty Hunter on drums for a set of six tunes by members of the band plus three covers.  Jack Bowers wrote on AllAboutJazz, “Those familiar with Stryker should know what to expect—dancing single-note runs with rare flourishes, always astute and accessible. As for Mintzer, his clean, angular phrases are never less than sharp and meticulous, while his emphatic, broad-shouldered style can be likened to that of Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker and other post-bop masters… Stryker’s trio is splendid on its own, even better when enhanced by Mintzer’s formidable presence—all of which makes Groove Street an agreeable avenue whereon to stroll and linger long enough the sample its captivating sounds and charming ambience.”

Judy Whitmore – Come Fly With Me (Self Produced, released 01/12/2024). Chris Walden Big Band with Hendrik Meurkens – harmonica.

Vocalist Judy Whitmore has assembled a set of tunes about travel to record with a big band with a large string section.  The repertoire is very familiar and we’ve all heard more compelling versions.

Donald Harrison – The Art of Passion (Ropeadope, released 01/11/2024).  Big Chief Donald Harrison – alto saxophone, Cameron Watson – piano, Max Moran – bass, Deezle – bass, Thomas Glass  -drums.

This is the second short release in a row for Donald Harrison, Jr. after Congo Square Suite (previewed here 08/28/2023) that clocked in at 24 minutes.  This newrelease consist of three versions of the same composition The Art of Passion, rendered in different styles, but totaling only 15 minutes.  The Hard Swing version captures what I love about Harrison’s playing – driving, fluent, soulful.  I wish there was more.

The Reid Hoyson Project – On A Misty Night (Reid Hoyson Prodcutions, released 01/08/2024).  Hendrik Meurkens – vibes / harmonica, Billy Test – piano, Rufus Reid – bass, Reid Hoyson – drums.

Pittsburgh drummer Reid Hoyson played with Richie Cole until the alto sax great passed on in 2020.  This time out, there are no horn players and most of the release is a vibes – piano – bass – drums quartet.  On occasion, vibraphonist Hendrik Meukens plays harmonica as well as providing three of the songs (including the lovely Prague in March).  Billy Test (Miho Hazama, Marshall Gilkes), a fine pianist with a beautiful touch, contributes one composition (Eden) as does veteran bassist Rufus Reid (Michael Dease, Frank Kimbrough, Ted Nash).  The rest of the program comes from Tadd Dameron (the beautiful title tune), Charles Mingus, Hank Mobley and George Cables.  Mingus’s Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love is given a strong reading with a beautiful contribution from Rufus Reid.

Blue Moods – Swing & Soul (Posi-Tone Records, released 01/05/2024).  Diego Rivera – tenor saxophone / soprano saxophone, Art Hirahara – piano, Jon Davis – piano, Boris Kozlov – bass, Vinnie Sperrazza – drums.

In 2021, Posi-Tone Records initiated a series (Blue Moods) dedicated to gaining better exposure for lesser-known but important jazz composers.  The first set, Myth and Wisdom, focussed on the compositional artistry of Charles Mingus – not lesser-known but deserving of regular exposure.  Now it is pianist Duke Pearson’s turn.  Jim Hynes wrote on Making A Scene, “It’s rare and ultimately very uplifting to find these Pearson gems together on one album. Consider the iconic versions of these songs – Idle Moments (Grant Green), and Is That So? (Lee Morgan) merged with such memorable mid-sixties Pearson gems as Big BerthaSweet Honey Bee, and Ready Rudy… This Posi-Tone quartet embodies the aptly titled Swing and Soul and deftly navigates Pearson’s tunes, most of which were written for much larger ensembles. That is a testament to the musicianship of Hirahara, Rivera, Davis, Kozlov, and Sperrazza. If you love that classic Blue Note ‘60s sound, you’ll be more than satisfied.”  Across ten tunes, as the primary melodic voice, tenorist Diego Rivera floats over the typical Posi-Tone driving rhythm section paying homage to some great compositions.  Recommended.

Tómas R. Einarsson – Shades of Blue (released 12/18/2023).  Chet Baker-tp, Tómas R. Einarsson – bass, other players unknown…

This one is a total surprise to me.  The set of seven tunes includes two featuring Chet Baker recorded live in 1985.  That was the hook that roped me in, but I must say the disc is wall-to-wall beautiful.  Tómas R. Einarsson is a legendary bassist whose work is well-documented in Iceland, but his fame hadn’t reached my ears until now.  Most of the disc is recorded at a slow pace which gives one a chance to hear and appreciate Einersson’s fat tone and lovely phrasing (check out Milli stríða).  While the Chet Baker tracks are live, the balance of the disc sounds like studio work, from several sessions, to me.  I wish I had more to add about the other players and circumstances of these recordings.  Our colleague Steve Harris is in touch with the bassist, so we may be hearing more of his extensive catalog in the weeks to come.  I certainly hope so.

Lisa Hilton – Coincidental Moment (Ruby Slipper Productions, released 12/01/2023).  Igmar Thomas – trumpet, Lisa Hilton – piano, Luques Curtis – bass, Rudy Royston – drums / percussion.

Pianist Lisa Hilton is in the company of familiar collaborators again with Igmar Thomas on trumpet, Luques Curtis on bass and Rudy Royston on piano.  The newrelease consists of nine originals plus the Miles Davis / Bill Evans tune Blue is Green and Lana Del Ray’s West Coast.  Hilton’s playing continues to be saturated in the blues and her excellent band realizes the highest standards of mainstream jazz.  Check out the soul jazz anthem Happy Go Luckily.  Another strong release.

Dave Solazzo & The Bridge – Locrian Skye (Spider Records, released 10/22/2023).  Dave Solazzo – piano, Matthew Vacanti – bass, Bill D’Agostino – drums.

Pianist Dave Solazzo has released a collection of eight originals performed by a piano trio.  This is a debut release for a mid-career player from Central NY.

Wendell Harrison Tribe – Get Up Off Your Knees (Tribe Records, released 01/08/2021).  Trunino Lowe – trumpet / flugelhorn, John Douglas – flugelhorn, Walter White -trumpet, Lonnie Thomas – french horn, Vincent Chandler – trombone, John Rutherford – bass trombone, Wendell Harrison – tenor saxophone / keyboards / bass clarinet / Bb clarinet, Kasan Belgrave – alto saxophone / flute, Steve Woods – flute, Victoria Tilman – oboe, Johanna Bermann – bassoon, Alexis Lombre – piano, Pamela Wise – piano, Luis Resto – acoustic piano, Jacob Schwantz – guitar, Herve Samb – lead guitar, Noumounda Sissokho – kora, Brain Juarez – bass, Pathe Jassi – bass, Sam Copperman – bass, Djallo Djakate – drums, Louis M. Jones III – drums, Ron Otis – drums, Gregory “Greco” Freeman – percussion, Chileno Amen Ra – percussion, Alioune Seck – percussion, Khadim M’ Baye – percussion, Samba n’ Dox M’Baye – tama (talking Drum), Mbiyu Chui – poetry, Miche Braden – vocals, Pathe Jassi – vocals / bass / guitar.

Multi-reediest Wendell Harrison has been a fixture in Detroit and a mentor to many, having founded his own label Tribe Records in the early 70s.  In this release he showcases many younger southeastern Michigan players.  Veronica Johnson wrote on Jazz Times, “There’s a lot to digest here because the original compositions encompass R&B, soul, spoken word, and ‘world’ music, all seen through the lens of jazz. Harrison tends to weave elements of African music into many of his compositions. On Siera and Samoulén Khalé Yi, both written by vocalist and bassist Pathe Jassi, he pays tribute to Guinea-Bissau and Senegalese culture. Educators also has African nuances in its hardcore drumming and Harrison’s sublime blowing on bass clarinet and clarinet.  Any discriminating jazz listener will be consumed by Get Up Off Your Knees, but it seems Harrison’s primary purpose for making this album is to encourage the current generation to put education first and build social awareness.”  Varied and inspirational.

Our colleagues in folk music here at WTJU have made us aware of several recordings from 2023 that bridge between folk and jazz.

Paul Bernstein – Jazz Mandola (Self Produced, released 12/02/2023).  Konstantins Jemeljanovs – trumpet, John Gove – trombone, Greg Johnson – saxophone, John R Burr – piano, Kei Iwazaki – piano, Jeff Massanari – guitar, Tom Bekeny – fiddle / mandolin, Don Stiernberg – mandolin, Tom Bekeny – mandolin, Paul Bernstein – mandolin / mandola / tenor guitar, Gail Sharpsteen – mandocello / violocello, Dan Feiszli – bass, Jason Lewis – drums, Brian Rice – percussion. Mollie Speiglman – vocals.

Mandola player Paul Bernstein covers a lot of ground in this set of nine originals plus A Smooth One by Bennie Goodman and Charlie Christian.  The ensembles range from piano – mandola duets with pianist Kei Iwazaki to a nonet with a trumpet – trombone – saxophone front line.  Paulmieri en Cuba from the leader plus fiddle – guitar – bass – percussion is a lovely latin stroll and Silver Lining with the nonet has a satisfying soulful vibe.  The electric mandola is a deeply resonant presence throughout.  Very Jazzy.

Mr. Sun – Mr Sun Plays Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite (Adhyâropa Records, released 12/01/2023).  Darol Anger – fiddle, Joe Walsh – mandolin, Grant Gordy – guitar, Aidan O’Donnell – bass.

Mr. Sun is a key player in the reinvention of the American string band.  As further evidence that the traditional string band repertoire cannot contain these players, check out this release, the first complete reinterpretation of the Ellington / Strayhorn masterwork of 1963.  A host of influences are in full bloom, a bluegrass romp on Russian Fox Chase (Trepak), a very bluesy Sugared Rum? Spare Me! (Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy), a middle-eastern toned 100% Arabica (Arabian Dance) and a swinging walking bass-fueled Overture.  When genres get tossed in the blender like this you can be sure that fiddler Darol Anger is not far from the epicenter.  He is joined here by fellow travelers Grant Gordy on guitar, Joe Walsh mandolin star and Brooklyn jazz bassist and frequent Gordy collaborator Aiden O’Donnell.  What a treat!

Jason Burger – Jacob Jolliff – Alec Spiegelman – Standards on Snare, Mandolin, and Bass Clarinet (Adhyâropa Records, released 10/06/2023).  Alec Spiegelman – bass clarinet, Jacob Jolliff – mandolin, Jason Burger – snare.

Three Brooklyn players have recorded a set of standards on an unlikely trio of instruments – bass clarinet, mandolin and a snare drum played with brushes.  It is a short list of standards, seven total, including Bud Powell’s Celia, Bird’s Ornithology, and Donna Lee, Trane’s Giant Steps and Duke’s In a Sentimental Mood.  There is a satisfying directness to the spare presentation of these familiar tunes.

Enion Pelta-Tiller – Dedicated Dig (Self Produced, released 10/02/2023).  Shane Endsley-tp, Enion Pelta-Tiller – violin / vocals, Darol Anger – violin, Coleman Smith – violin, David Tillerman – guitar, Grant Gordy – guitar, Joy Adams – cello, Eric Thorin – bass.

Enion Pelta-Tiller (Taarka, Elephant Revival) has been mentored by fellow-violinist Darol Anger and her debut release is influenced in equal parts by Anger’s Turtle Island String Quartet and Django Reinhardt’s Quintet du Hot Club de France.  The result has been referred to as “Chamber Folk with a heavy dose of Gypsy Swing”.  Half of the tracks are recorded by a quartet of three violins plus cello, while the balance features a quartet of violin – guitar – guitar / mandolin – bass.  Composition credits go to a diverse bunch – Django (of course), Horace Silver, JS Bach, Darol Anger.

A fine start to a new year.  I hope you hear something new and exciting.

Russell Perry, Jazz at 100 Now!


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