New Jazz Releases – 03/11/2024

Charles Lloyd

Good news.  This week, Charles Lloyd is back in the studio with an amazing quartet; Christian McBride nails a bass duo disc; Roberto Magris excels in solo, duo, trio and quartet settings; and Snorre Kirk channels Ellington and Hodges.

Charles Lloyd – The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow (Blue Note Records, releases 03/15/2024).  Charles Lloyd – tenor saxophone / alto saxophone / bass flute / alto flute, Jason Moran – piano, Larry Grenadier – bass, Brian Blade – drums.

Saxophone / flute master Charles Lloyd has released his first studio recording since the 2017 sessions that resulted in Vanished Gardens and Tone Poems.  After 2023’s trio of trio live recordings, Lloyd has assembled a heavyweight quartet with pianist Jason Moran (who recorded with him regularly in the New Quartet from 2007 – 2016), bassist Larry Grenadier (Joey Alexander, Ethan Iverson, Brad Mehldau), and drummer Brian Blade (Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Billy Childs, Wayne Shorter).  The double album includes thirteen originals (six of which are new and seven reimagined) and covers of two traditional gospel tunes.  Stuart Nicholson wrote on JazzWise, “While Monk’s Dance adheres to a specific form, many titles have open forms, and it is here the invention and ingenuity and collective wisdom of Lloyd’s accompanists allow Lloyd’s improvisational magic to blossom on originals such as Ghost of Lady Day, When the Sun Comes Up and the title track.”  Lloyd is one of the most significant artists to span from the 20th to the 21st Centuries and, at 86, he is still vital and creative.  Highly recommended.

Snorre Kirk – Top Dog(Stunt Records, releases 03/24/2024).  Stephen Riley – tenor saxophone, Michael Bucher – tenor saxophone / alto saxophone, Magnus Hjorth – piano, Mads Kjolby – guitar, Anders Fjeldsted – bass, Snorre Kirk – drums.

From the first note, drummer Snorre Kirk’s latest recalls the gentle swinging of a Duke Ellington or Johnny Hodges small group sessions.  As an added bonus, tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley, a regular Kirk collaborator, brings a dead-on Ben Webster sound to the proceeding.  As Peter Vacher writes on JazzWise, “It’s Ellington, or Johnny Hodges to be precise, who comes to mind first on the opening 12-bar [Working The Night Shift], with [Magnus] Hjorth’s tremolo piano introducing the Hodges-style blues riff that just seems to run and run, the tenors trading ideas, the American Riley breathy like Ben Webster.  The title track then evokes the celebrated Ellington-Blanton duets, with bassist [Anders] Fjeldsted topping and tailing things admirably, Hjorth suitably Ducal and Riley sounding more like Paul Gonsalves. Bring Me Home recalls Sy Oliver’s catchy Yes, Indeed and is probably the meatiest piece on the album, with [Michael] Blicher, the harder-edged of the tenorists, soloing well and the piece generating a decent ensemble push. One Late Night is mostly Riley, his whispering sax quite ethereal, fluttery, and plaintive.”  And then check out the real thing: Ellington’s The Duke’s Men Vol. 1 & 2 (1934 – 38) and Back to Back: Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges Play the Blues (1959).

Christian McBride & Edgar Meyer – But Who’s Gonna Play The Melody?(Mack Avenue, releases 03/22/2024).  Christian McBride – bass / piano, Edgar Meyer – bass / piano.

Two bassists, Christian McBride from the jazz world and Edgar Meyer from the worlds of bluegrass, classical and folk music, meet for an almost all bass recording (four of the fifteen selections have one of the musicians on piano).  One might think that an ensemble of such limited scope might make for a tedious listen.  On the contrary, these are two very inventive players.  As Mike Jurkovic wrote on AllAboutJazz, “It is not known exactly how many duets of this nature have fallen into the lackluster bin of audio history. But rest assured that But Who’s Gonna Play The Melody? is as far from that incalculable number as the moon is from the sun. Emblematic of Christian McBride’s whole groove credo, everything falls into place quickly, smoothly, and easily on But Who’s Gonna Play The Melody?. On the bassist’s gazillionth high spirited musical offering, McBride soul-teams with finger-snapping, bluegrass-bred, classical composer & bassist Edgar Meyer—who has previously played with Joshua Bell, Bela Fleck, and Yo-Yo Ma—for a most rousing revelry. Both virtuosos with a keen sense of humor, McBride and Meyer curate their heartland musical idiosyncrasies, resulting in some very sweet moments such as the hip swaying Green Slime and the see-sawing Barnyard Disturbance, both mischievous Meyer originals.”  Your ears will thank you.

Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows – Heartland Radio (Soundspore Records, releases 03/15/2024). Tony Kadleck, Tony Glausi, Philip Dizack, Mike Rodriguez – trumpets, Mike Fahie, Alan Ferber, Javier Nero, Jennifer Wharton – trombones, Remy Le Boeuf – alto saxophone / flute / alto flute, Alejandro Aviles – flute / alto saxophone, Lucas Pino – tenor saxophone / clarinet, John Lowery – tenor saxophone / clarinet, Carl Maraghi – baritone saxophone / bass clarinet, Martha Kato – piano, Pascal Le Boeuf – keyboards, Alex Goodman – guitar, Max Light – guitar, Dan Montgomery – bass, Peter Kronreif – drums, Julia Easterlin – vocals, Danielle Wertz – vocals.

Saxophonist / composer Remy Le Boeuf and his big band Assembly of Shadows were nominated for the Grammy for the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for their last outing, 2023’s Architecture of Storms (The Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra won).  The current effort derives from a cross country trip driving all his belongings to Denver to start his new gig as Director of Jazz and Commercial Music Studies at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.  Thierry De clement wrote on Paris Move, “From the very first track, it’s clear why Remy Le Bœuf and his Assembly of Shadows were nominated for the Grammys. Here, everything unfolds in widescreen format with themes rolled out track by track like movie scores, majestically orchestrated and perfectly polished arrangements, even borrowing from the brass arrangements reminiscent of 80s EWF. Remy Le Boeuf finds inspiration in the ever-evolving sonic landscape of the great American road trip. Across seven tracks of striking ingenuity and intimacy, Le Boeuf’s ensemble, the Assembly of Shadows, merges the language of modern jazz and classical textures with ideas and emotions drawn from pop radio. Echoes of indie rock, R&B, dance-pop, alternative, and EDM infuse breathtaking orchestral harmony, agile ensemble play, and masterful solos.”

Gaston Reggio – Michigan (Insert Dash Mental Records, releases 03/15/2024).  Rob Dixon – tenor saxophone / alto saxophone / soprano saxophone, Ramiro Flores – tenor saxophone / alto saxophone, Rebecca Kleinmann – flute / alto flute, Clay Wuhlbrecht – piano / melodica, Frederico Araujo – accordion, Daniel Barden – guitar, Rodrigo Cotelo – guitar / sitar / mandolin / synthesizers / harmonium / percussion, Martin Ibarra – guitar, Francisco Fattoruso – bass, Marco Messina – bass, Gaston Reggio – drums / vocals / percussion / guitar, Nico Selves – vocals, Amanda Mara – vocals.

Uruguayan-born, Brazilian-educated and currently living in Raliegh-Durham, percussionist Gaston Reggio has released his second disc as a leader.

Dan Pugach Big Band – Bianca (Outside In Music, released 03/08/2024).  Sam Hoyt, David Smith, Stuart Mack, Dave Adewumi – trumpets, Mike Fahie, Alan Ferber, Jason Perales – trombones, Jen Hinkle – bass trombone, Andrew Gold – flute / soprano saxophone / alto saxophone, Patrick Cornelius – flute / alto saxophone, Jeremy Powell – tenor saxophone / clarinet, Eitan Gofman – tenor saxophone / clarinet / baritone saxophone, Andrew Hadro – baritone saxophone / bass saxophone / bass clarinet, Nitzan Gavrieli – piano, Pete McCann – guitar, Sam Weber – bass, Dan Pugach – drums, Nicole Zuraitis – vocals

Taking inspiration from animal rescue (Bianca is a pitbull), drummer Dan Pugach has composed six originals for 18-piece big band.  In addition, Travel was written by Pugach’s wife Nicole Zuraitis (winner of the 2023 Grammy for the Best Jazz Vocal Album – How Love Begins), who delivers the lyric beautifully.

Roberto Magris Solo / Duo / Trio / Quartet – Love Is Passing Through (J Mood Records, released 03/01/2024). Ettore Martin – tenor saxophone, Roberto Magris – piano / gong / vocals, Danillo Gallo – bass, Enzo Carpentieri – drums / percussion / Balinese percussion.

Italian pianist Roberto Magris has released a richly varied set of four solo pieces, two duets with drummer Enzo Carpentieri and another duet with tenor saxophonist Ettore Martin, four trios with the addition of bassist Danilo Gallo, and two tenor – piano – bass – drums quartets.  Overlayed on these different configurations is a focus on the compositions of Billy Strayhorn (Love Passed Me By from the quartet, the rarely played Love Came with shades of Some Other Time, by the tenor – piano duo, the also rarely played Orson from the trio and two solo versions of Lush Life.  There are highlights in each configuration and the Herbie Nichols shout out Hair, Bea, Knee, Calls (read it aloud) is hypnotic and wonderful.  A fine release.

Doug MacDonald – Sextet Session (Self Produced, released 03/01/2024).  Aaron Janik – trumpet, Doug Webb – tenor saxophone, Josh Nelson – piano, Doug MacDonald – guitar, Mike Gurrola – bass, Charles Ruggiero – drums.

With a top flight Southern California sextet, guitarist Doug MacDonald has released a swinging set.  Jack Bowers wrote on AllAboutJazz, “MacDonald is aided and abetted melodically by tenor saxophonist Doug Webb, trumpeter Aaron Janik and pianist Josh Nelson, with the rhythm component in the capable hands of bassist Mike Gurrola and drummer Charles Ruggiero. Besides playing straight-on guitar in the boppish manner of such masters as Tal Farlow, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel and others, MacDonald is a splendid composer, and his clever charts (he wrote six of the album’s eight numbers) are for the most part strong and engaging.”  MacDonald is a terrific ballad player (You’ve Changed) and one wonders why that vein is not more completely mined.

Matthieu Bordenave – The Blue Land (ECM, released 01/26/2024).  Matthieu Bordenave – tenor saxophone / soprano saxophone, Florian Weber – piano, Patrice Moret – bass, James Maddren – drums.

For saxophonist Matthieu Bordenave’s latest he has taken his trio of pianist Florian Weber and bassist Patrice Moret and added drummer James Madden.  Nick Lea wrote on Jazz Views, “Upon hearing Bordenave’s La traversée release in 2020 (his debut as leader for ECM) I was immediately a fan. The music had a gentle floating aspect to it that was as calming as it was intriguing and showed a keen musical mind at work as a composer and a razor-sharp improviser.  The earlier album took inspiration from the Jimmy Giuffre 3 of the 1960s, but Bordenave was never one to shackled by influences and has simply explored the chamber jazz implied by the format and then moved on… Not discarding the chamber jazz that was such an integral part of La traversée, Bordenave has instead brought small fragments of melody to see how they can be developed by the quartet and if the fragments can be connected to form the basis or structure for the performance.”  A lovely, if unsurprising set.

Spike Robinson Quartet – The Live Session (PME, released 01/20/2024). Spike Robinson – tenor saxophone, Dale Bruning – guitar, Dick Patterson – bass, Derryl Goes – drums.

This quartet date from tenor saxophonist Spike Robinson is from a live date in 1974, during a period when he had a full-time day gig.  Upon retiring in the eighties, he made a string of discs until his death in 2001.  Robinson plays with a light tone that is reminiscent of Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn and may have even more influence from Lester Young.

Roby Glod, Christian Ramond, Klaus Kugel – No ToXiC (NEMU Records, released 01/01/2024).  Roby Glod – alto saxophone / soprano saxophone, Christian Ramond – double bass, Klaus Kugel – drums.

Glod Raymond Kugel have released a set of fourteen jointly-credited improvised pieces. Different Noises blog wrote, “Roby Glod has been performing in this trio line-up with Christian Ramond and Klaus Kugel for almost 20 years now. Although their music is largely freely improvised, it has its obvious roots in the jazz tradition, using elements such as a “swinging pulse”, “jazz phrasing” and, above all, borrowing melodic and rhythmic patterns out of the bag of early modern jazz masters such as Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh.”  There are moments of discord but much of the disc is quite melodic and accessible.

Kersten Stevens – Queen Rising (Self Produced, released 11/03/2023). Ragan Whiteside – flute, Miki Hayama – Hammond organ / keyboards / piano / Wurlitzer, Seth Johnson – guitar, Kersten Stevens – violin, Christian McBride – bass, Eric Harland – drums.

Violinist Kersten Stevens, with support from bassist Christian McBride, has put together a great band for a set of four originals (two with McBride) and four covers (Donny Hathaway / Earth Wind & Fire).  In addition to McBride, Miki Hayama (Don Braden, Nnenna Freelon) joins in on piano and Eric Harland (Chris Potter, Charles Lloyd, Billy Childs) is on drums.  Her promo material consistently refers to Kersten Stevens at the Queen of the Violin (hence the title Queen Rising), but I would put a number of players ahead of her on that list.  A solid smooth jazz offering.

Matteo Mancuso – The Journey(The Players Club, released 07/30/2023).  Giuseppe Vasapolli – organ / piano, Matteo Mancuso – guitar, Vincento Mancuso – guitar, Riccardo Oliva – bass, Stefano India – bass, Gianluca Pellerito – drums, Giuseppe Bruno- drums.

Before this release, Sicilian guitarist Matteo Mancuso was a substantial internet star.  Now he has released a spare set of nine originals (two co-written with his father), mostly in a guitar – bass – drums trio. There are some swinging and very jazzy takes like Polifemo (with pianist Giuseppe Vasapollo) and some very capable shredding.  Name guitarists are crowding around with gushing tributes to Mancuso as the “new thing.”  Thanks to folk announcer and string player Pete Marshall for bringing this to our attention.  Lot’s of talent here.

Caesar Frazier – Live at JazzCup (Stunt Records, released 06/16/2023).  Jonas Kullhammar – tenor saxophone, Caesar Frazier – Hammond B3, Johannes Wamberg – guitar, Kristen Osgood – drums.

Organist Caesar Frazier (Marvin Gaye, Lou Donaldson) brings funky soul jazz to Copenhagen with Danish tenor – guitar – drums accompaniment.  The playlist is largely familiar and comfortable – Jive Samba, You’ve Changed, A Night In Tunisia, and the like.  This brings to mind the hey-day of organ quartets and the spirit of Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff lives on in this music.

Scott Dunn with Clare Martin and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – I Watch You Sleep (Stunt Records, released 03/31/2023).  Ryan Quigley – flugel horn, Rob Barron – piano, Jeremy Brown – bass, Matt Skelton – drums, Clare Martin – vocals)

Vocalist Clare Martin and orchestrator / conductor Scott Dunn team to recognize TV / film composer and jazz pianist Richard Rodney Bennett.  Martin and Bennett were a performing duo for a dozen years.  Martin sings beautifully nestled in a soft orchestral duvet.  Not much swing nor propelling rhythm, but lots of strings.

Sarah Chaksad – Songlines ( released 05/21/2021).  Hildegunn Øiseth – trumpet, Sarah Chaksad – alto saxophone / soprano saxophone, Pepe Auer – bass clarinet, Malcolm Braff – piano, Marc Mezgolits – bass, Gregor Hilbe – drums, Lisette Spinnler – vocals.

We’ve been on a Sarah Chaksad binge around here.  As far as I know, Songlines from 2021 completes the four release discography, the remainder of which is covered in the past two weeks of these previews.  In contrast to the others, which have ensembles ranging in size from 13 to 16 pieces, this is a septet effort and the individuality of each musician plays an even greater role.  Hildegunn Øiseth, the Norwegian trumpeter familiar from two other Chaksad releases, adds a plaintive urgency to Loneliness with her turn on goat horn.  Pepe Auer is percussive and melodic by turns on bass clarinet (check out Long Way Home).  Improvising wordless vocalist Lisette Spinner, fills a role characteristic to Chaksad’s music, in which the female voice is both an ensemble and solo presence.  Highly recommended.

I hope there is something here that will add to your life.

Russell Perry, Jazz at 100 Now!

If your music isn’t changing your life, you’ve simply picked the wrong songs. 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