New Jazz Releases – 06/24/2024

Anthony Branker

Anthony Branker has released his third disc in two years.  Tributes this week from Jon De Lucia (Brubeck) and Brian Landrus (Ellington and Strayhorn).  Two releases this week from William Parker, two more from Nasheet Waits (his Quartet and Tarbaby) and two featuring Alex Claffy (his own band and Jihee Heo’s trio).  Enjoy.

Anthony Branker & Imagine – Songs My Mom Likes (Origin Records, released 06/21/2024).  Philip Dizack – trumpet, Donny McCaslin – tenor saxophone / soprano saxophones, Fabian Almazan – piano, Pete McCann – guitar, Linda May Han Oh – double bass, Rudy Royston – drums, Aubrey Johnson – vocals.

Composer Anthony Branker (What Place Can Be For Us? A Suite in Ten Movements previewed 02/20/2023, Spirit Songs previewed 09/01/2023) has recorded a tribute to his mother, who is suffering from dementia, by revisiting tracks from his back catalog with an all-star ensemble. Bassist Linda May Han Oh and saxophonist Donny McCaslin catch a fine groove on Imani (Faith) and pianist Fabian Almazan is powerful throughout.

Reviews:  Marlbank, Contemporary Fusion Reviews

Jon De Lucia – The Brubeck Octet Project (Museum Clausem Records, releases 07/12/2024).  Brandon Lee – trumpet, Becca Patterson – trombone, Jon De Lucia – alto saxophone, Scott Robinson – tenor saxophone, Jay Rattman – baritone saxophone / clarinet, Glenn Zaleski – piano, Daniel Duke – bass, Keith Balla – drums. 

In 1948 and 1950, Dave Brubeck recorded several sessions with a two brass – three reed – three rhythm octet.  There are interesting parallels to Miles Davis’ four brass – two reed – three rhythm nonet that recorded (in 1949 & 1950) the sessions packaged for LP as The Birth of the Cool.  Both explorations, on opposing coasts, posited a classically-inspired antidote to the fiercely virtuosic bebop orthodoxy of the time.  Now Brubeck’s effort, the lesser known of the two, has received a clean remake by alto player Jon De Lucia in a record whose sonic quality makes the original Brubeck Fantasy release a bit tough to listen to.  Well-conceived and well-played.

Review:  AllAboutJazz

Brian Landrus – Plays Ellington & Strayhorn (Palmetto Records, releases 07/05/2024).  Brian Landrus – baritone saxophone / bass saxophone / bass clarinet / contra alto clarinet / piccolo / flute / alto flute / bass flute, Dave Stryker – guitar, Jay Anderson – bass, Billy Hart – drums.

Low woodwind specialist Brian Landrus has recorded a set of classic Ellington / Strayhorn tunes providing all the woodwinds himself through overdubbing from his arsenal of baritone and bass saxophones, bass and contra alto clarinets, piccolo, and C, alto and bass flutes.  The flutes and piccolo provide color, but the dominant vibe is low.  His accompaniment is a spare guitar (Dave Stryker) – bass (Jay Anderson) – drums (Billy Hart) rhythm section.  The harmonies are rich and the pace tends to be stately – low and slow.

Review: Paris Move

Nasheet Waits – New York Love Letter (Bitter Sweet) (Giant Step Arts, releases 06/28/2024).  Mark Turner – tenor saxophone, Steve Nelson – vibraphone, Rashaan Carter – bass, Nasheet Waits – drums.

Nasheet Waits (Jason Moran, Christian McBride, Tarbaby) has joined forces with tenorist Mark Turner (Live At The Village Vanguard previewed 08/21/2023), vibraphonist Steve Nelson (Nicole Glover, Louis Hayes, Renee Rosnes), and bassist Rashaan Carter (Black Art Jazz Collective, Marta Sanchez, Maria Grand) for a set of two originals plus covers of Andrew Hill, Jason Moran and John Coltrane.  Waits is as musical as always and Turner gives another great performance (check out Andrew Hill’s Snake Hip Waltz).

Review:  Art Music Lounge

Tarbaby – You Think This America (Giant Step Arts, releases 06/28/2024). Orrin Evans – piano, Eric Revis – bass, Nasheet Waits – drums.

While this is the fifth release from the three-musician collaborative Tarbaby, it is their first as a trio without guest players.  There are pieces from Ornette Coleman, David Murray, Andrew Hill and Sonny Murray and several uncredited selections presumably by the trio. The music is very open and collaborative.

Review:  Art Music Lounge

William Parker – Cooper-Moore – Hamid Drake – Heart Trio (AUM Fidelity, releases 06/28/2024).  William Parker – doson ngoni / shakuhachi / bass dudek / Serbian flute in F# / Ney flute, Cooper-Moore – ashimba / hoe-handle harp, Hamid Drake – frame drum / drum kit.

Multi-instrumentalist William Parker joins two members of his quartet for a set of freely improvised music with strong associations to West Africa although rhythms and sounds from a broader geography are evident as well.  The sympathy between these players is extraordinary.

Review:Jazz Trail

William Parker & Ellen Christi – Cereal Music (AUM Fidelity, releases 06/28/2024).  William Parker – texts / recitation / bass / flutes, Ellen Christi – found design / vocals.

William Parker, initially a bassist, now a multi-instrumentalist, adds poetry composition and spoken word performance to his repertoire with this spare and sensitive release featuring his collaboration with sound designer / vocalist Ellen Christi.

Review: Boomcat

Sergio Pamies – Time To Say (New Trad, released 06/24/2024 ). Alex Norris – trumpet / flugelhorn, Marshall Gilkes – trombone, Michael Thomas – alto saxophone / soprano saxophone, David Liebman – soprano saxophone, Daniel Pardo-fl, Sergio Pamies – piano, Ricky Rodriguez – bass, Jimmy Macbride – drums, Samuel Torres – percussion.

Time To Say, the title tuneto the new release from Spanish pianist Sergio Pamies, is a tribute to Chick Corea, featuring Pamies’s delicate pianism with Dave Liebman on soprano.  While Paquito d’Rivera joins in on clarinet for another guest slot, the three-horn front line of Alex Norris (trumpet / flugelhorn), Marshall Gilkes (trombone), and Michael Thomas (alto / soprano) are more than sufficient to anchor the sextet for the balance of the selections.

Reviews: Paris Move, Making A Scene, Jazz Weekly

Alexander Claffy – Memento (Cellar Music, released 06/21/2024).  Matt Chalk – alto saxophone, Stacy Dillard – tenor saxophone, Eric Alexander – tenor saxophone, Tim Brey – piano, Dave Kikoski – piano, Simon Moullier – vibraphone, Kurt Rosenwinkel – guitar, Alexander Claffy – bass, Jimmy Macbride – drums.

For his tenth release as a leader, bassist Alex Claffy has teamed with a rhythm section of Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar and Jimmy Macbride on drums to support a host of first-rate players including tenorists Stacy Dillard and Eric Alexander, pianist Dave Kikloski, vibraphonist Simon Moullier.  Dillard, Rosenwinkel and Moullier combine on the unison head of Joe Henderson’s Jinriksha for one of the discs highlights.  Recommended.

Jihee Heo – Flow (OA2 Records, releases 06/21/2024).  Vincernt Herring – alto saxophone, Jihee Heo – piano, Alexander Claffy – bass, Joe Farnsworth – drums.

South Korean-born, New Yorker-by-choice pianist / composer Jihee Heo joins with ace trio-mates bassist Alex Claffy and drummer Joe Farnsworth for a set of six originals and two covers.  Featuring a gentle touch that can turn percussive (in a Bud Powell kind of way), Heo’s second on Origin Records (after a self-produced initial release) is a real winner for piano trio fans.

Gardyn Jazz Orchestra – Vinyl Brews (JCGardner Music, released 06/21/2024).  Daniel Wright – trumpet, Derek Dillman – trumpet, Andrew Esch – trumpet, Michael Cruse – trumpet, Jimmy Boyle – trumpet, Marcell A. Bellinger – trumpet, Travis Hill – trombone, Seth Dowdell – trombone, Rachel Slifer – trombone, Brett Slifer – bass trombone, Jon C. Gardner – alto saxophone, Jacob Kaplan – alto saxophone, Jud Aaron – tenor saxophone, Jordan Graef – tenor saxophone, Louis Kugelman – baritone saxophone, Dan Hanrahan – guitar, Jack Ozment – piano, Isaac Strader – bass, Sean J. Kennedy – drums.

Philadelphia big band under the baton of Jon Gardner performs a live set of six original tunes (with three alternate takes) with hip arrangements and groovy swing.

Isrea Butler – Congo Lament (Vegas Records, released 04/30/2024).  Isra Butler – trombone, Douglas Lawrence – tenor saxophone, David Loeb – piano, Steve Flora – bass, Bob Chmel – drums.

Trombonist Isrea Butler and tenor saxophonist Douglas Lawrence, both of the current Count Basie Orchestra combine on a set of seven tunes associated with swing trombonist Bennie Green, including six tracks from tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec’s LP Easy Living recorded in 1962.  Straight-ahead and swinging.

Reviews: Making A Scene, Wild Mercury Rhythm

Leigh Pilzer’s Seven Pointed Star – Beatin’ The Odds (Strange Woman Records, released 03/31/2024).  Ally Hany Albrecht – trumpet, Kenny Rittenhouse – trumpet, Jen Krupa – trombone, Joe Jackson – trombone,  Mercedes Beckman – alto saxophone, Tim Green – alto saxophone, Leigh Pilzer – baritone saxophone / tenor saxophone, Amy K Bormet – piano, Allyn Johnson – piano, Amy Shook – bass, Sherrie Maricle – drums, Frank Russo – drums, Greg Holloway – percussion.

Silky and funky by turns, Leigh Pilzer’s baritone leads this band, often by stepping back.  Two Mid-Atlantic septets are featured, one an all woman ensemble, in a program of eight originals plus one selection by bassist Amy Shook.  Solid bands, well-written tunes, straight-ahead modern jazz.  Platinum Taxi with its challenging rhythm is a standout.  

Reviews:AllAboutJazz,Making A Scene, Jazz Weekly

Howard Levy – Alone and Together (Balkan Samba Records, released 03/30/2009 Howard Levy – harmonica / piano / hand and foot percussion.

Following his well-received concert in Charlottesville, harmonica player / pianist Howard Levy has sent us this 2009 set of virtuosic solo playing.  Half the set is originals and the other is well-chosen standards (e.g.Taking a Chance on Love, The Nearness of You).  Amazing playing,

Derek Frank – Origin Story (self-produced, released 03/25/2024).  Aaron Janik – trumpet, Daniel Falcone – trumpet, Gil Kaupp – trumpet, Nathan Tanouye – trombone, Dan Boissy – tenor saxophone, Rob Mader – tenor saxophone, Karl Denson – tenor saxophone,Eric Tewalt – baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone / flute, Phil Wigfall – alto saxophone, Katisse Buckingham – alto flute, Carey Frank – keys, Matt Rohde – keys, Ty Bailie – keys, Joshua Ray Gooch – guitar,  Anthony King – guitar, Brent Mason – guitar, Derek Frank – bass / vocoder, Randy Cooke – drums, Jake Hayden – drums, Demian Arriaga – percussion.

Touring bassist Derek Frank (Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Shakira, Air Supply) dips into the jazz well for a funky and bluesy instrumental set of six originals written or co-written by the leader, plus one cover each of the Bee Bees and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  

Review: The JW Vibe.

Lots to hear, let’s get busy.

Russell Perry, Jazz at 100 Now!

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


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