New Jazz Releases – 03/06/2023

Angie Wells

One of the wonderful things about this gig is getting to hear so much new music.  This week, not only was the music new, but almost all the artists were new to me and many are players from whom I hope to hear much more.

Angie Wells – Truth Be Told (Cafe Pacific Records, 02/2023).  Kye Palmer – trumpet / flugelhorn, Ivan Moleskin – trombone, Katie Buckingham – flute, Jacob Scesney – tenor sax, Josh Nelson – piano, Carey Frank-Hammond – B3, Larry Koonse – guitar, Trevor Ware – bass, John Clayton – bass, Clayton Cameron – drums, Angie Wells – vocals, Zion G – vocals, Lynne Fiddmont – backing vocals / snaps and claps, Valerie Geason – backing vocals / snaps and claps.

I love this record and I am puzzled why Angie Wells hasn’t made her way into my ears before.  She has a warm and tender voice that can also be vigorous, biting, challenging by turns.  Her selection of material, including those tunes she composed, reminds me of Rene Marie, whose music I also love.  She has written on homelessness (Where The Living Is Good), police violence (the largely a capella Truth Be Told) and flirtation (Talkin’ All Under My Clothes) and renders great interpretations of material like Moanin’/Work Song and the gospel standard I’ve Got A Feeling.  Give this a spin, maybe it will move you too.

Dwight Trible – Ancient Futures (Gearbox, 03/2023).  Kamasi Washington – tenor sax, John Beasley – piano / keyboard, GE Stinson – guitar, André Gouché – bass, Greg Paul – drum / percussion, Rene Fisher – percussion, Megashia Jackson – percussion /backing vocals, Dwight Trible – voc, Georgia Ann Muldrow – vocals.

Somewhat of a god-father to the LA scene that brings us the West Coast Get Down (Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Cameron Graves), Dwight Trible has been the vocalist with the Pharaoh Sanders Quartet and the vocal director for the Horace Tapscott Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra.  In this release, he seems more like an Afro-futurist funkmeister.  Chris May, the terrific reviewer at All About Jazz wrote, “This adventurous album takes spiritual jazz’s premier vocalist out of his comfort zone and into the deep blue yonder. It is a work of extremes, beginning with a storm of avant-rock, funk and electronics and ending by spinning off into abstract space accompanied by a virtual headful of Stanley Owsley’s finest.”  This is difficult music to categorize, should that matter to you. You might want to start with the one track that features Kamasi Washington – African Drum.

Billy Childs – Winds of Change (Mack Avenue, 03/2023).  Ambrose Akinmusire – trumpet, Billy Childs – piano, Scott Colley – bass, Brian Blades – drums.  

Childs considers himself a composer first, then a pianist and, indeed, the music is highly composed.  Inspired by his hometown of LA and by film noire, the set has a sense of soundtrack to it, in that it moves between very specific moods and begins to imply a narrative of passage.  Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire is an ideal partner for this effort, playing with great feeling and precision.  Bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blades are well-acquainted having anchored efforts by Kenny Werner, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and many others. That this is likely a one-off band is a shame as these players work really well together.  Recommended.

Manzanita Quintet – Osmosis(Origin Records, 03/2023).  Josh D Reed – trumpet, Peter Epstein – saxophone, Adam Benjamin – piano / Rhodes, Hans Halt – bass, Andrew Heglund – drums.

As far as I can tell this is the first release by this straight ahead quintet (trumpet – sax – piano – bass – drums) and it’s a good one – eight originals plus Monk’s Bemsha Swing and Charlie Haden’s Silence.  Fierce soloing over a swinging rhythm section, driving unison sections, deeply personal introspection.  I don’t know who these cats are but they captured my ears.  I look forward to more.

Theo Croker – By The Way (Sony/Masterworks, 02/2023)Theo Croker – trumpet, Ego Ella Mae – vocals, the balance of the players are not identified.  

Trumpeter Theo Croker’s music has been called by the New York Times, “smoldering neo-jazz.”  What seems to be meant by “neo-jazz” is jazz whose boundaries expand toward electronic sounds, hip-hop, and R&B.  A collaboration with sweet-voiced British-Nigerian soul singer-songwriter Ego Ella Mae, this release generally has Croker way back in the mix, which is a loss as he is a richly emotional player.

Eddie Coburn – Jazz Project Vol 1 Featuring Rodney Rich (Self Produced, 02/2023) Phil Kelly – keyboards, Rodney Rich – guitar, Kurt Krahnke – bass, George Eberhardt – drums, Greco Freeman – percussion.

A set of a dozen tunes by composer Eddie Coburn, performed by a quintet lead by guitarist Rodney Rich.

Bill Warfield and the Hells Kitchen Funk Orchestra – Time Capsule (Planet Arts, 02/2023). Bill Warfield – trumpet / flugelhorn, Matt Owens – trumpet / flugelhorn, Colin Brigstocke-trumpet / Flugelhorn, Charley Gordon -trombone, Matt Hong – saxophone, Dave Riekenberg – saxophone, Kurt Bacher – saxophone, Lou Marini – saxophone, Cecilia Coleman – piano, Paul Shaffer – Hammond organ, Matt Chertkoff – guitar, Steve Count – bass, Scott Neumann – drums, Chrissi Poland – vocals.

Trumpeter and bandleader Bill Warfield has been around, playing with folks like Randy Brecker and Dave Liebman, but his main focus seems to be Hells Kitchen Funk Orchestra and they blew me away.  With a couple or three brass and an equal number of saxes plus rhythm, this band can fill the room. Check out their driving version of Billy Taylor’s anthem I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.  I’ve never heard a better rendition, really – never.  Vocalist Chrissi Poland reminds me of Fontella Bass in her prime!  Then they funk up raving versions of Pee-Wee Ellis / James Brown’s Cold Sweat and Joe Zawinul’s Man in the Green Shirt.  Whew!  A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Musique Noire – IN*TER*GEN*ER*A*TION*AL (Self Produced, 12/2022).  Michelle May – flute / Violin, Leah Celebi – violin / viola, Leslie DeShazor – viola, JoVia Armstrong – percussion with Brendon Davis – piano, Ahya Simone – harp, Max Bowen – guitar, Sasha Kashperko – guitar, Marion Hayden – bass, Mahogany Jones – vocals.

Musique Noire is a Chicago-based violin / viola / percussion quartet with occasional flute plus guests on piano, bass, guitar, harp and vocals.  The percussionist is JoVia Armstrong from the UVa’s Music Department and Leslie DeShazor, who guested with the UVa Jazz Ensemble, holds down the viola chair.  The Jazz Ensemble performed a set of Armstrong’s compositions in their fall concert in 2022.  This, Musique Noire’s fourth release, is quite beautiful and posses a distinctive vibe.  This instrumentation ought to be better represented in the jazz world.

Bob Himmelberger Trio – Legacy (Trance Records, 12/2022). Bob Himmelberger – piano, Dave Kingsworth – bass, Matt Kane – drums.

Piano trio led by composer Bob Himmelberger in a program of originals by the leader.  There is a singing quality to the piano playing that makes for an enjoyable set.

The Las Vegas Boneheads – Sixty and Countin’(Self Produced, 11/2022).  Curt Miller – trombone, Nathan Tanouye – trombone, Nate Kimball – trombone, Andrew Boostrom – trombone, Hai Magaggi – trombone, Andy Martin – trombone, Sonny Hernandez – bass trombone, Ralph Pressler – bass trombone, Uli Geissendoerfer – piano, Steve Flora-b, Larry Aberman-d.

For sixty years, trombonists from various Las Vegas bands have gigged together after hours, recording sporadically.  These guys are first-rate players and their arrangements capture different parts as in a typical big band book, but all the parts are played by trombones.  Sure, it’s a bit of a gimmick, but it swings and the playing is terrific.

Michael Morreale – Vol. 4 August 17th (PepJack Records, 07/2022).  Michael Morreale – trumpet / Flugelhorn / piano, Bill Moring – bass, Tim Horner – drums. 

After a long separation due to the pandemic, trumpeter/pianist Michael Morreale pulled this band together for a recording session on August 17, 2020 and this release documents their coming out.  Three tunes by Bird (at 100 years old), three by Johnny Mandel (who had recently passed), a couple of originals, plus Lover Man.  It’s a good set list and well played by a sympathetic chordless trio (for the most part – Morreale plays piano on two of the Mandel tunes.)

In addition, we have just added Mark Turner’s debut as a leader to the library, at long last… 

Mark Turner – Yam Yam (Criss Cross, 1994).  Mark Turner – tenor sax, Brad Mehldau – piano, Larry Grenadier – bass, Jorge Rossy – drums. 

In a review of Turner’s best recordings over a career that spans almost 30 years, Jazzfuel wrote, “Turner’s debut album as a leader was recorded in 1994 and released the following year on esteemed Dutch independent label Criss Cross.  It features modern guitar great Kurt Rosenwinkel, plus what was at the time the Brad Mehldau Trio: pianist Mehldau, with Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy on bass and drums respectively.  Fellow saxophone players Seamus Blake and Terrence Dean also appear on ‘Zürich’, which is one of five Turner originals here.”

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

Russell Perry

Jazz at 100 Now!


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