New Jazz Releases – 05/15/2023

Avi and Abie
Avishai Cohen and Abraham Rodriguez, Jr.

A stellar week in new jazz – fine Latin grooves from Avishai Cohen & Abraham Rodriguez Jr., Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble, and Israel Tanenbaum & The Latinbaum Jazz Ensemble, more great music from tenor veterans George Coleman, T.K. Blue  and Joe Lovano, and, from the far end of the dial, releases by bassist Mark Dresser, pianist Matt Mitchell and guitarist Marc Ducret.  Something for everyone!

Avishai Cohen – Abraham Rodriguez Jr. – Iroko (Naive Records, released 05/05/2023).  Avishai Cohen – bass / vocals, Abraham Rodriguez Jr. – congas / vocals.

Prepare to dance and smile – the new issue from bassist (not to be confused with the great trumpeter) Avishai Cohen and Abraham Rodriguez, Jr. is wonderful fun.  Who knew that a duet of an Israeli bassist and a Nuyorican conguero with vocals could be so rewarding?  While the covers of American pop songs are entertaining (It’s A Man’s World), it is the Yoruba Incantations (The Healer) and compositions from the duo (Fahina) that define this project for me.  I cannot stop listening to Avisale A Mi Vecina, of which Mukwae Wabei Siyolwe wrote in Afropop Worldwide, “Avi’s and Abie´s combined musical roots, beginning with a Yoruba incantation, shine through with such clarity. Infused with inflections of their cultural and social hybridity, they take us from the shores of the Delta State of Nigeria to Guantanamo, Cuba, and back through Sephardic folk musical traditions and African Moorish influences to a place of healing.”  A winner.

T.K. Blue – The Tide of Love (Arkadia Records, releases 06/09/2023).  T.K. Blue Sextet (T.K. Blue-as/afl, James Weidman-p, Stefon Harris-vib, Ron Jackson-g, Gavin Fallow-b, Lenny Robinson-d)

T.K. Blue (aka Talib Kibwe) was for thirty-years the music director for Randy Weston (until 2018). His latest release is a collection of romantic ballads – three originals plus tunes by Jobim, Sergio Mendez, Jimmy Rowles and others.  Among the originals is the sweet title tune The Tide of Love, which has a head similar to Wayne Shorter’s Infant Eyes and gentle contributions from Stefon Harris on vibes and James Weidman on piano.  Nothing terribly challenging here, just a soft pillow for your soul.

Hazelrigg Brothers – Synchronicity: An Interpretation of the Album by The Police (Outer Marker, releases 06/02/2023).  George Hazelrigg – piano, Geoff Hazelrigg – bass, John O’Reilly – drums.

In their 2017 debut, Songs We Like, the Hazelrigg Brothers recorded a classic rock set list from the jazz piano trio point of view. To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the fifth and final album by The Police, the trio has recorded jazz interpretations track-by-track in the original play order.  I confess that I don’t know the music of The Police, so any association to the original record is mostly lost on me, sorry.  Simply on the basis of this project as a piece on its own, this trio reminds me of the original Bad Plus – melodic improvisational music with rock overtones, especially in the drumming, lots of dynamic range and swells of energy.  Everyone knows Every Breath You Take, right?  Here the melody is played on the bass, pizzicato, then arco.  Well worth a listen, Police fans especially.

Brian McCarthy Nonet – AFTER | LIFE (Truth Revolution Recording Collective, releases 05/26/2023).  Bill Mobley – trumpet / flugelhorn, Cameron McManus – trombone, Brian McCarthy – alto saxophone / soprano saxophone, Daniel Ian Smith – saxophones, Andrew Gutauskas – saxophones, Stantawn Kendrick – saxophones, Matt Aronoff – bass, Justin Kauflin – piano, Jared Schonig – drums. 

For his second nonet recording. Vermont-based saxophonist / composer / bandleader Brian McCarthy has released a set inspired by the solar system.  His nimble nonet is composed of two brass, four saxophones plus piano, bass and drums and none of the players are familiar to me, but I am looking forward to hearing more from them.  This project includes selections that range from lovely ballads with individual horns soloing over soft cushions of ensemble playing (AFTER | LIFE Movement II) and funky rave-ups (The Beginning) to atmospheric soft-focussed compositions with rich colors from the horn harmonies (Kepler’s Law).  Eager for more.

Joe Farnsworth – In What Direction Are You Headed? (Smoke Sessions, releases 05/19/2023).  Immanuel Wilkins – alto saxophone, Julius Rodriguez – piano / Fender Rhodes, Kurt Rosenwinkel – guitar, Robert Hurst – bass, Joe Farnsworth – drums.

With this disc, drummer Joe Farnsworth moves away from playing with the previous generation of mentors (e.g. Kenny Barron on the past two releases) to a band of his peers (Hurst, Rosenwinkel) and younger players (Rodriguez, Wilkins) and the results are fresh and exciting.  Wilkins continues to be a marvel.  His rubato intro to Rosenwinkel’s Terra Nova with the guitarist is a tender intro to a feature for the two players.  Pianist Rodrgiguez tears it up on his boppish composition Anyone But You. With the new band, Farnsworth lays back a bit and the energy moves from player to player.  Spend some time with this excellent release.

David Larsen – The Peplowski Project (Self Produced, releases 05/19/2023). David Larsen – baritone saxophone / alto saxophone / tenor saxophone / clarinet, Ken Peplowski – clarinet / tenor saxophone, Jake Svendsen – piano, Josh Skinner – bass, Brendan McMurphy – drums.

Born of the leader’s affection for both the playing of fellow-reed player Ken Peplowski and the dueling horns of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, David Larsen’s latest release wears its mainstream heart on its sleeve.  Whereas Cohn / Sims mostly both played tenor in their work together, Larsen runs the gamut of saxophones (plus clarinet) in a front line with Peplowski’s (mostly) clarinet.  Peplowski is an interesting player who excels in all kinds of settings (Diego Figueiredo, Dick Hyman, Allen Lowe, Randy Sandke, Mel Torme).  This project captures but one of his many faces.  There are times on the record when these two reed players sound right out of the Cohn / Sims mold (Tenor for Dinner) and others that depart from this model (the baritone / clarinet on All The Things You Are.). Unapologetically mainstream and well played.

Dave McMurray – Grateful Dedication 2 (Blue Note, releases 05/19/2023).  Dave McMurray – saxophone, Maurice O’Neal – piano / B3 / keyboards, Luis Resto – keyboards, Wayne Gerard – guitar, Ibrahim Jones – acoustic bass, Jeff Canady – drums, Larry Fratangelo – percussion.

In this followup to his 2021 tribute to the Grateful Dead, Detroit saxophonist keeps on truckin’.  In his review of the first release for Downbeat, JD Considine wrote, “[If it] doesn’t quite make a case for the band’s repertoire as potential jazz standards, Grateful Deadication will certainly become the smooth-jazz of choice for aging Deadheads.”

Dan Wilson – Things Eternal (Brother Mister, releases 05/19/2023).  Glenn Zaleski – Fender Rhodes, Theron Brown – organ, Dan Wilson – guitar, Brandon Rose – bass, David Throckmorton – drums,  Nigel Hall – vocals, Durrell LeGrair – vocals, Tommy Lehman – vocals, Jessica Yafanaro – vocals.

Dan Wilson has been mentored by the late organist Joey DeFrancesco and bassist Christian McBride and he makes the most of this pedigree in this catchy organ – guitar quartet program.  Such an interesting set list – Lennon/McCartney, McCoy Tyler, Freddie Hubbard, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Sting.  In the latter case, Sting’s Let your Soul Be Your Pilot gets the full-on four-voice gospel treatment and Eleanor Rigby features some of the most beautiful guitar playing on the record.

George Coleman – Live at Smalls Jazz Club (Cellar Music, released 05/12/2023).  George Coleman – tenor saxophone, Spike Winner – piano, Peter Washington – bass, Joe Farnsworth – drums.

Another issue from the Smalls Living Masters series has George Coleman in sympathetic and comfortable surroundings.  And a Living Master he is – with Harold Mabern, Booker Little and Charles Lloyd, he was a member of the Rhythm Bombers at Manassas High in Memphis in the early 50s.  One would be remiss if they only remember George Coleman as the tenor player between Trane and Wayne in the Miles Davis Quintet.  In fact, he is a strong and creative (and long-lived) player of consequence.  His terrific versions of Four (with a delicate rubato intro) and My Funny Valentine date from his time with Miles and still have fire within.  Valentine, in fact was also on Coleman’s (worthy of revisiting) 1998 Rodgers and Hart tribute, I Could Write A BookThe Nearness of You is a textbook lesson in ballad playing.  Keep going George!

Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble – Home Is Here (Jazz Road, released 05/12/2023).       Nadje Noodhuis – flugelhorn, Don Clough – trumpet, Jeff Holmes – trumpet, Seth Bailey – trumpet, Bill Fanning – trumpet, Jerry Sabatini – trumpet, Clayton DeWalt – trombone, Randy Pingrey – trombone, Bob Pilkington – trombone, Angel Subero – trombone / bass, Melissa Alsan – tenor saxophone, Paquito D’Rivera – clarinet / alto saxophone, Jacques Schwartz-Bartz – tenor saxophone, Yosvany Terry – alto saxophone / shekere, Felipe Salles – saxophone, Jonathan Ball – saxophone, John Mastroianni – saxophone, Mike Caudill – saxophone, Carl Clements – saxophone, Tyler Burchfield – saxophone, Luke Glavanovits – vibraphone, Nando Michelin – piano, Chico Pinheiro – guitar, Kevin Grudecki – guitar, Keala Kaumeheiwa – bass, Bertram Lehmann – drums, Magos Herrera – vocals, Sofie Rei – vocals.

This is the third recording for the Interconnections Ensemble under the leadership of São Paulo native Filipe Salles and, in a departure, each selection was composed with a specific guest artist in mind.  According to Troy Dostert on AllAboutJazz, “[Salles] had extensive conversations with each of the guest musicians on the record before composing the pieces on which each would be featured, thus highlighting their own stylistic and personal characteristics. The result is a polychromatic, adventurous album that allows Salles’ multidimensionality as a composer to flourish.”  The closer, Melissa Aldana’s star turn on Storytelling, is a highlight with the brightly colored arrangement setting off Aldana’s dusky tenor.

Joe Lovano’s Trio Tapestry – Our Daily Bread (ECM, released 05/05/2023). Joe Lovano – tenor saxophone / tarogato / gongs, Marilyn Crispell – piano, Carmen Castaldi – drums / gong / temple bells.

In their third release (Trio Tapestry – 2019, Garden of Expression – 2021) Joe Lovano – Marilyn Crispell – Carmen Castaldi (masters all) continue to mine a peaceful and spiritual vein.  This is a music of deep mutual listening and concentration with very little beat, hardly any swing, but with intense emotion.  Lovano is one of the most important saxophonists performing today and he has become so through exploring a very wide range of musical expressions.  His work with Trio Tapestry is one of the most powerful.

Mark Dresser – Tines For A Change (Pyroclastic Records, released 05/05/2023).  Mark Dresser solo – bass.

With his roots in Anthony Braxton’s Quartet in the 80s and 90s, bassist Mark Dresser has graced maybe 100 discs by other leaders in the avant-garde in addition to over thirty under his own leadership, making him one of the most recorded bassists on that end of the jazz spectrum.  Now he has recorded a solo record that leverages the myriad of sonic possibilities of his custom-prepared four- and five-string basses.  For example, the notes say, “he embedded hand-wound individual magnetic pickups into the fingerboard of the bass, one set below the nut and the other at the octave. These additional pickups allow Dresser to sound up to three different pitches on each string, as well as amplify subtle tones and pitches that might otherwise go unheard in a live or collaborative setting.”  Careful listening will expose all sorts of sounds and harmonies.

Michael Weatherwax – Big Band Trax By Wax: Music of Michael Wetherwax (Self Produced, released 04/27/2023).  The Kupkasonic Jazz Orchestra.

Career Hollywood composer / arranger Michael Wetherwax has released the first of a series of projects in different genres, this one of tunes he has written and/or arranged for big band.

Israel Tanenbaum & The Latinbaum Jazz Ensemble – Impressions (Zoho, released 04/21/2023).  Jonathan Powell, Orlando “Batanga” Barrera – trumpet, Бngel Subero, Willie Alvarez, Xito Lovell, Edilberto Lievano – trombones, Felipe Lamoglia, Julio Flores – saxophones, Oriente Lуpez, Andrea Brachfeld – flutes, Israel Tanenbaum – piano, Daniel Neville, Christos Rafalides – vibraphones, John Benitez – bass, Richie Flores, Tito De Gracia, Roberto Quintero, Joel “Pibo” Marquez, Luis Pacheco, Jessy “Timbalon” Perez, Wilson Viveros, Tito De Gracia, Tony Escapa,  Francis Benitez – percussion.

A veteran arranger / pianist / producer, Bronx-born, Puerto Rican bred Israel Tanenbaum has released his first recording as a bandleader and its a swinging Latin Jazz affair.  This is a catalog of Latin grooves – cha chas (Prime Flight), mambos (Mambo Caro), salsa (Prelude) and boleros (Steamy Patricia).  Fine writing by the leader, strong solos and intricate rhythms abound.  This will put some of that hep back in your step. 

Matt Mitchell – Oblong Aplomb (Out of Your Head Records, released 04/14/2023).  Matt Mitchell – piano, Kate Gentile – drums (Oblong), Ches Smith – drums (Aplomb.)

This two CD set of duets between leading New York avant-pianist Matt Mitchell (combining the drama of Cecil Taylor / Don Pullen and the logic of Paul Bley) and drummers Kate Gentile and Ches Smith is dedicated by Mitchell to the drummers in his life.  Jazz Trail writes, “This music is dense and demanding but those who make the commitment to really listen to what’s going on will be rewarded. Having said that, it’s also great to close your eyes, let it go, and simply enjoy these amazing sounds.”  The contrast between the drummers is interesting – Gentile tends to be aggressive and busy and Smith more calm and conversational.  Close your eyes.

Marc Ducret – Palm Sweat, Marc Ducret Plays the Music of Tim Berne (Screwgun / Out Of Your Head Records, released 03/10/2023).  Fabrice Martinez – trumpet / piccolo trumpet / fluegelhorn / tuba, Chrstiane Bopp – trombone, Sylvaine Hélary – alto flute, Marc Ducret – electric and acoustic 12 and 6 string guitars / fretless / soprano acoustic and electric / 4 and 6 string bass / prepared guitar / daxophone / percussion / daf / chains / suitcase / voice / handclaps, Bruno Ducret – cello / voice / handclaps. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, before decamping for his home in France, composer Tim Berne passed a set of compositions, in various states, on to the guitarist Marc Ducret,  In the interim, Ducret has formed this music into the current release, primarily a solo project, with a small amount of added brass and flute.  I find this to be idiosyncratic, difficult and raw music.  Who knows, you may love it, as Mark Corroto at AllAboutJazz did.

Another week of strong new music.  I hope these notes help you discover something you love to hear.

Russell Perry, Jazz at 100 Now!

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