New Jazz Releases – 01/16/2023

Derrick Gardner

Dave Stryker – Prime (Strikezone, 02/2023).

Dave Stryker – guitar, Jared Gold – organ, McLenty Hunter – drums.

This is Dave Stryker’s first disc that features exclusively his road-tested working trio of the last twelve years, recorded live in the studio, one take per song, no over-dubbing.  The set list includes eight original compositions plus a lovely version of the chestnut, I Should Care.  Boy, can these cats swing!

Skip Grasso – Becoming(Barking Coda, 02/2023).

Anthony Pocetti – piano / organ, Skip Grasso – guitar, Harvie S – acoustic bass, Billy Drummond – drums.

Tomer Cohen – Not The Same River (Hypnote Records, 02/2023).

Tomer Cohen – guitar, Matt Penman – bass, Obed Calvaire – drums.  For his debut recording, Israeli guitarist Tomer Cohen collaborates with two New York stalwarts, bassist Matt Penman (SF Jazz Collective, Joshua Redman) and drummer Obed Calvaire (Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Dave Holland).

Having grown up on a kibbutz, Cohen’s rural roots inform a pastoral feeling to his compositions, complemented by a lyrical touch to his finger-picking.

John Bailey – Time Bandits (Freedom Road Records, 01/2023).

John Bailey – trumpet, George Cables – piano, Scott Colley – bass, Victor Lewis – drums.

Check out this band!  If you like your jazz swinging and straight-ahead, give this a shot.  Up tempo rockers, shuffles, beautiful ballads, Bailey and crew can do it all with style and elegance.  The interplay of Cables and Bailey on She’s Leaving Home is moving.  You might recognize Bailey’s name from his long association with Arturo O’Farrill and The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (The Offense of the Drum, Cuba – The Conversation Continues, Four Questions), but this isn’t a Latin Jazz outing (although that would be fun, too.)  While you are at it, time to go back and check out Bailey’s 2018 release In Real Time.

Metropolitan Jazz Octet – The Bowie Project (Origin, 01/2023).

Doug Scharf – trumpet / flugelhorn, Russ Phillips – trombone, John Kornegay – alto sax / clarinet / alto flute, Jim Gailloreto – tenor sax / soprano sax / flute, Peter Brusen – baritone sax / bass clarinet / bassoon, Bob Sutter – piano, Ben Lewis – piano, Mike Freeman – vibes / marimba, Doug Bistrow – bass, Bob Rummage – drums / percussion.

Arrangements of David Bowie tunes for octet.

Mimi Fox Organ Trio – One For Wes (Origin, 01/2023).

Brian Ho – organ, Mimi Fox – guitar, Lorca Hart – drums.

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wes Montgomery’s birth (March 6, 1923), Mimi Fox and her long-time Bay Area trio presents a program of (mostly) Montgomery-inspired originals. Guitar Player Magazine says, ”Beyond her passion and technical virtuosity, Fox plays with a profundity that only results from a lifetime of commitment and total immersion in one’s art.”

Derrick Gardner & The Jazz Prophets – Pan Africa (Impact Jazz, 01/2023).

Derrick Gardner – trumpet, Vincent Gardner – trombone, Robert Dixon – alto sax / tenor sax, George Caldwell – piano, Obasi Koto – bass, Kweku Sumbry – drums / African percussion.

A trip to Ghana led to Derrick Gardner to channel the African diaspora in this compelling set rooted in African rhythms.  Each tune honors a different facet of the diaspora and is anchored by a different rhythmic motif.  The program of originals by the band is complemented by a stirring take on Jackie McLean’s Appointment in Ghana from his legendary disc with Tina Brooks, Jackie’s Bag.  This release is guaranteed to get you out of your seat.

Kari Kirkland – If (When You Go) (Slea Head Records, 01/2023).

Terrel Stafford  – trumpet, Carlitos del Puerto  – trumpet, Michael Gutierrez  – trumpet, Camilo Molina  – trumpet, Brandon Bryant  – trombone, David Mason – sax, Jason Arkins  – sax, Shelly Berg  – keyboards, Brian Kilgore – guitar, Kevin Axt  – bass, Peter Erskine  – drums, Budapest Scoring Orchestra  – strings, Kari Kirkland – vocals.

Jazz-adjacent arrangements of pop tunes.

Michael Feinberg Quartet – Blues Variant (Criss Cross, 01/2023).

Dave Liebman – soprano sax / flute, Noah Preminger – tenor sax / flute, Leo Genovese – piano, Michael Feinberg – bass, Nasheet Watts – drums.

Bass-led ensemble of first call New York players (with guest appearance by Dave Liebman), playing a program of originals from the band and one piece by Herbie Hancock.  Genovese (Esperanza Spalding, Francisco Mela, Leni Stern) and Watts (Jason Moran, Fred Hersch, Antonio Hart, and many more) are rock solid, but my ears point to tenor-player Noah Preminger, in this set.  Check out Preminger’s excellent 2021 release, Sky Continuous.  Liebman (Preminger’s one-time teacher) is in fine form on three tunes.

Jim Self – My America 2 Destinations (Basset Hound, 11/2022).

Ron Stout – trumpet / flugelhorn, Bill Booth – trombone / euphonium, Scott Whitfield – trombone, Jim Self – tuba, Phil Feather – alto sax / English horn, Tom Peterson – soprano sax / tenor sax, Jim Chiodini – guitar, Steve Fister – guitar, Bill Cunliffe – piano / melodica, Ken Wild – bass, Kendall Kay – drums, Brian Kilgore – percussion.

Old school arrangements of tunes about various places in the US (e.g.I Love LA) from tuba-led ensemble.

Dan Weiss Trio – Dedication (Cygnus Records, 11/2022).

Jacob Sacks – piano, Thomas Morgan – bass, Dan Weiss – drums.

Troy Dostert in AllAbout Jazz offers these observations, “Approaching any Dan Weiss album requires a willingness to be challenged. From head-scratching time signatures to fascinating shifts in mood and texture, Weiss gives intrepid listeners a number of pathways into his music, and his releases always justify repeated encounters. Dedication, his latest with his regular trio partners pianist Jacob Sacks and bassist Thomas Morgan, is no exception, although what is most remarkable about this album is Weiss’ lyrical sensitivity, a quality which is sometimes overshadowed on his other recordings by his percussive pyrotechnics.” 

The Chicago Plan – For New Zealand (Not Two Records, 11/2022).

Steve Swell – trombone, Gebhard Ullmann-tenor sax / bass clarinet, Fred Lomberg-Holm – cello, Michael Zerang – drums / percussion.

This is a reunion of Swell and Ullmann making challenging music in a wide variety of moods, but with an avant-garde virtuosity.

Patricia Brennan Quartet – More Touch (Pyroclastic Records, 11/2022).

Patricia Brennan – vibraphone / marimba, Kim Cass – bass, Marcus Gilmore – drums, Maurico Herrera – percussion.

Last year, Patricia Brennan released Maquishti to great acclaim and her follow up is just as powerful.  Counting Brennan, the disc rides on the power of three percussionists, bringing an Afro-Cuban sensibility to very atmospheric music informed by electronic manipulation.  If Mary Halvorson played the vibes, it might sound a bit like this. Strong response from critics put this release in the Top 20 of the 17th Annual Jazz Critics Poll.

The Clarinet Trio – Transformations and Further Passages (Leo Records, 11/2022).

Jürgen Kupke – clarinet, Michael Thieke – alto clarinet, Gebhard Ullmann – bass clarinet.

Founded in 1998 and with this lineup for the past twenty years, these three players are totally in synch.  On AllAbutJazz, John Eyles writes, “…the unavoidable facts about The Clarinet Trio are that the three different clarinet sounds fit together and complement one another perfectly; the three players display an almost telepathic understanding of one another’s playing, based on nearly two decades of playing together as a trio; with no other instruments present, the clarinets do not just solo, but fulfill all the roles necessary to create a deep rich soundscape which is captivating from first note to last.”  This release is much more accessible than Ulmann’s other 2022 offering with The Chicago Plan- For New Zealand (see above.)

… And catching up of some older releases, new to our music library

Steven Bernstein & the Millennial Territory Orchestra – Popular Culture, Community Music Vol. 4 (Royal Potato Head, 9/2022).

Steven Bernstein – trumpet / slide trumpet / flugelhorn, Curtis Fowlkes – trombone, Doug Wielselman – clarinet, Peter Apfelbaum – tenor sax, Erik Lawrence – baritone sax, Matthew Munisteri – guitar / banjo / vocals, Charlie Burnham – violin, Ben Allison – bass, Ben Perowsky – drums.

The fourth installment of Community Music by Steven Bernstein’s longstanding ensemble that has always been a postmodern experiment – take the format of a 1930s “territory” band and dare it to play a program that ranges from Mingus to The Beatles, from Bessie Smith to the Grateful Dead, from Eddie Harris to Duke Ellington.

Ches Smith and We All Break – Path of Seven Colors (Pyroclastic, 06/2021).

Miguel Zenon – alto sax, Matt Mitchell – piano, Nick Dunston – bass, Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene – tanbou / vocal, Marcus Schwartz – tanbou / vocals, Daniel Brevil – tanbou / vocals, Ches Smith drums / percussion, Sirene Dantor Rene – vocal.

This disc comes from Ches Smith’s serious study of Haiti’s traditional Vodou music with guidance from New York’s Haitian-American community.  Knowing Smith from his work with Tim Berne, John Zorn, Trevor Dunn, Anthony Pirog, Craig Taborn, Mary Halvoson and other outside players in the New York scene, this focus may come as a bit of a surprise. The driving set contains some of the more fiery work from alto-great Miguel Zenon.  A bonus disc, We All Break is included in the box set with a quartet session of 2015 featuring Ches Smith on drums and Matt Mitchell on piano with Daniel Brevil and Marcus Schwartz on tanbou and vocals.  Always a powerful player, Matt Mitchell shows a rhythmic side that fits well into the ensemble.  This set was widely praised as one of the top jazz releases of 2021 including placing in the Top 10 of the 16th Annual Jazz Critics Poll.

Theo Bleckman & the Westerlies – This Land (Westerlies Records, 01/2021).

Riley Mulherkar – trumpet, Chloe Rowlands – trumpet, Andy Clausen – trumpet, Willem de Kock – trombone, Theo Bleckmann – vocal.

Genre-bending singer Theo Bleckmann partners with equally undefined progressive brass quartet, The Westerlies, to record an album of protest songs to record their outrage over the politics of the late 2010’s – you know what I’m talking about.  An AllMusic favorite album of 2021.

A final thought.  Dave “Professor Bebop” Rogers wrote these notes for the past eight years, sharing his unique observations with all of us.  I am deeply appreciative of his effort over the long haul and, as he steps away from this activity, will endeavor to meet the high standard he set.

So much great music.  I hope this helps you discover something new.

Russell Perry

Jazz at 100 Now!


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