New Jazz Releases – 07/03/2023

Kait Dunton

Two UVa-associated players have releases covered here – Jazz Ensemble alumna and John D’earth collaborator keyboardist Kait Dunton and faculty member percussionist JoVia Armstrong.  This week also includes a number of international releases from Florida-based Puerto Rican-raised percussionist Sammy Figueroa, LA-based Nigerian singer Douyé, Brazilian composer / pianist Antonio Adolfo, and Vancouver-based Canadian singers Dee Daniels and Denzal Sinclaire.

Kait Dunton – Keyboards (Real and Imagined Records, releases 07/17/2023).  Kait Dunton – Fender Rhodes / Wurlitzer / Hammond organ / clavinet, Sean Hurley – bass, Jake Reed – drums.

UVa Jazz Ensemble alumna and collaborator with John D’earth on her 2019 disc, Planet D’earth, pianist Kait Dunton has increasingly seen herself as a keyboardist.  Through the pandemic, she developed the discipline of posting short compositions to Instagram three times a week.  At the suggestion of husband and drummer Jake Reed, she developed a number of these pieces into this disc featuring vintage keyboard instruments.  There is a Headhunters meets Earth, Wind and Fire vibe here that is amplified by bassist Sean Hurley and Reed putting their funk groove on.  Dunton will be featured at this year’s Monterey Jazz Festival in September!

Sammy Figueroa – Searching For A Memory (Busco Tu Recuerdo) (Ashe Records, releases 07/14/2023).  Francisco Dimas – trumpet, John Daversa – trumpet, Miguel Zenon – alto saxophone, Felipe LaMoglia – tenor saxophone, Magela Herrera – flute, Gonzalo Rubalcabo – piano, Munir Hossn – guitar / percussion, Ricardo Rodriguez – bass, Ludwig Afonso – drums, Sammy Figueroa – percussion / vocals, Aymée Nuviola – vocals.

Percussionist Sammy Figueroa has paid homage to his father Charlie Figueroa whose romantic boleros were popular in the 1950s, but who died young before his son could really know him.  The father’s greatest hit was Busco Tu Recuerdo (Searching for A Memory), touchingly sung on the new disc by his son.  According to the press release, ”the classic melodies of Charlie’s most famous boleros have been transformed into modern Latin jazz arrangements with elements of son montuno, cha-cha, plena/bomba, mariachi, samba, rumba, and just great clave-based Latin jazz.”  Figueroa solicits fine contributions from Cuban piano-great Gonzalo Rubalcabo (stellar on the title tune), from whom we don’t hear enough these days, and Miguel Zenon (terrific on Como Arrullo De Palmas – Like the Whispering Palms), who seems to be everywhere these day – to my delight.  This is a stately and well played record.

Claire Daly with George Garzone – VuVu for Frances(Daly Bread Records, releases 07/14/2023).  George Garzone – tenor saxophone, Claire Daly – baritone saxophone, Jon Davis – piano, Dave Hofstra – bass, David F Gibson – drums.

Forty-year New York veteran and pioneering woman baritone player Clair Daly has teamed with tenorist George Garzone (Joe Lovano, Francisco Mela, George Russell) to record a set of standards to honor Daly’s friend and jazz super-fan 98-year old Frances Ballantyne.  This is a straight-ahead mix of up-tempo romps (Miles Davis’s Half Nelson) and ballads (Harlem Nocturne) by a solid ensemble.  Marlbank writes, “Inescapably if you recall the sound of Joe Temperley or Harry Carney then this lands on your forecourt perfectly where Daly is concerned.“  Ten to one you’ll hear this on Induced to Judder

Douyé – The Golden Sèkèrè (Rhombus Records, releases 07/07/2023).  Greg Glassman – trumpet, Freddie Hendrix – flugelhorn, Sean Jones – trumpet, Brian Switzer – trumpet, Nadav Nirenberg  – trombone, Marty Wehner – trombone, Zack Pitt Smith – tenor saxophone, Roger Cox – baritone saxophone, Zem Audu – saxophone, Ron Blake – saxophone, Rickey Woodard – saxophone, Itai Kris – flute, Benito Gonzalez – piano, Victor Silva – piano, Walter John Bankovitch – piano, Dapo Torimiro – piano, Elio Villafranco – piano, Dokun Oke – guitar, Adesoji Odukogbe – guitar, Lionel Loueke – guitar, Dezron Douglas – bass, Edward Perez – bass, Sezin Ahmet Türkmenoğlu – bass / guitar, Charles Goold – bass, Billy Edwards – bass, Fred Doumbe – bass, Buster Williams – bass, Ogene Bell – douyé, Corey Rawls – drums, Tosin Aribisala – drums, Manas Itiene – drums, Fola Abiala – talking drum / African Percussion, Miguel Valdes – percussion, Najite Agindotan – African percussion, Najite Agindotan – Sèkèrè, Raul Ramirez – percussion, Douyé – vocals / Sèkèrè / African percussion.

LA-based, Nigerian singer Douyé blends African polyrhythms with the Great American Songbook (loosely defined), a winning combination.  Her Afrobeat take on I’ve Got You Under My Skin pleasurably brings to mind Fela Kuti (she also records a Sinatra-nuanced second version to close the record.) Bob Dorough’s Devil May Care gets a spare (and wonderful) trio treatment with Buster Williams on bass and Najite Agindotan on African percussion.  In contrast Ellington’s Azure is lush with Victor Silva on piano, Dokun One on guitar, and driving rhythms from Agindotan and Tosin Aribisala.  Trumpeter Sean Jones furnishes tasty fills and a beautiful muted solo on My Funny Valentine.  There is a lot of range on this disc and much to recommend it.

Tyshawn Sorey Trio – Continuing (Pi Recordings, releases 06/30/2023).  Aaron Diehl – piano, Matt Brewer – bass, Tyshawn Sorey – drums.

Drummer / composer Tyshawn Sorey released Mesmerism (with this trio) and The Off-Off Broadway Guide to Synergism (in a quartet with Greg Osby) in 2022 and both ended up on many best of the year lists.  The new release continues with the standards repertoire, but with deeper explorations – the tunes tip the scales at ten to fifteen minutes.  The four selections honor the recent passing of Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, and Sorey’s mentor Harold Mabern plus an intensely languid Angel EyesKarl Ackerman wrote on AllAboutJazz, “Continuing is even more accessible than Mesmerism but the two make terrific companion pieces. There is a good deal of warmth on this album; at times it feels like comfort food for the ears but served on a very hot plate.”  A tasteful set played with sensitivity and power.

Benny Benack III – Third Time’s The Charm (La Reserve Records, released 06/26/2023).  Benny Benack III – trumpet / flugelhorn / vocals, Bria Skonberg – trumpet / vocals, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown – tenor saxophone, Michael Stephenson – tenor saxophone / vocals, Ruben Fox – tenor saxophone, Emmet Cohen – piano / Rhodes, Peter Bernstein – guitar, Russell Hall – bass, Kyle Poole – drums.

This is a strange one.  There are a number of very good players listed on the package, but no indication of which player is on which tune.  There are some fine tenor moments, but which of the three tenor player is to be credited is a mystery. Three vocalists, including Benny Benack III, are credited and none of them do much for me.   Emmet Cohen is the only pianist listed and he plays well, as expected.  Benack is singularly identified as the lyricist and composer, yet the selections include I’ll Never Fall In Love Again (Burt Bacharach and Hal David).  I wonder who wrote In A Mellow Tone?  Enough carping, how is the music?  Don’t bother.

Javon Jackson – “With Peter Bradley” Soundtrack and Original Score (Solid Jackson Records, 06/16/2023).  Greg Glassman – trumpet, Javon Jackson – tenor saxophone, Jeremy Manasia – piano, David Williams – bass, Charles Goold – drums, McClenty Hunter – drums.

Abstract artist Peter Bradley was frequently in the audience during tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson’s tenure with the Jazz Messengers and the two have been friends for decades, so it makes sense that Jackson’s first soundtrack project is a documentary about Bradley.  Ten of the twelve tunes are Jackson compositions covering a lot of ground from gentle ballads (Edith Ramsey) to mid-tempo swingers (D-Town) and classic hard bop burners (In The Studio). Jim Hynes at Making a Scene wrote, “Whether you ever see the documentary or not, the soundtrack is right in the wheelhouse for those who enjoy the hard bop, classic quintet recordings that we typically associate with the classic Blue Note period in the ‘60s. In many respects, though, it’s a timeless straight ahead jazz sound that Jackson presents here. It’s not new but it still sounds appealing.”

Antonio Adolfo – Bossa 65: Celebrating Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal (Antonio Adolfo Music, released 06/12/2023).  Jesse Sadoc – trumpet / flugelhorn, Rafael Rocha – trombone, Danilo Sinna – alto saxophone, Marcelo Martins – tenor saxophone / flute, Antonio Adolfo – piano / vocals, Lula Galvao – guitar, Jorge Helder – bass, Rafael Barata – drums / percussion, Dada Cosa – percussion.

Elegant pianist and bandleader Antonio Adolfo has recorded a tribute to two old friends, songwriters Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the rise of Bossa Nova.  Katchie Cartwright writes on AllAboutJazz, “The program is infused with Adolfo’s distinctive sensibility. A highlight of the set is his striking arrangement of Lyra and Vinicius De Moraes’ Marcha da Quarta-Feira de Cinzas (Ash Wednesday March), which features the sumptuous alto flute of Marcelo Martins with the superbly swinging rhythm section of Jorge Helder on double bass, drummer Rafael Barata, percussionist Dada Costa, and guitarist Lula Galvão…. The root is samba and carnaval, via a mid-century bossa nova aesthetic.”

Dee Daniels & Denzal Sinclaire – Let It Shine! Let It Shine! (Cellar Music, released 06/08/2023).  Johnny Summers – trumpet / flugelhorn, Carsten Rubeling – trombone, Scott Morin – alto saxophone, Mark Delong – tenor saxophone / clarinet / flute, Isiah J Thompson – piano, Bobby Floyd – Hammond B3 organ / Rhodes, Nick Tateishi – guitar, John Clayton – bass, Herlin Riley – drums / percussion, Dee Daniels – vocals, Denzal Sinclaire – vocals.

In a departure, Cellar Music from Vancouver has released a jazz-related gospel record.  Vancouver vocalists Dee Daniels and Denzal Sinclaire join with a stellar band featuring bassist John Clayton (Craig Davis, Diana Krall), pianist Isiah J Thompson (The Power of the Spirit, reviewed 03/20/2023), dummer Herlin Riley (Wynton Marsalis, Cecile McLorin Salvant) and organist Bobby Floyd in a program of spirituals and gospel standards.

Idle Hands – Get A Grip (Posi-Tone Records, released 05/19/2023).  Donny McCaslin – tenor saxophone, Will Bernard – guitar, Behn Gillece – vibraphone, Art Hirahara – piano, Boris Kozlov – bass, EJ Strickland – drums.

Idle Hands was born from the Posi-Tone Records collection of artists in 2019 and they are back with Donny McCaslin in for Sam Dillon on tenor and EJ Strickland for Donald Edwards behind the kit.  All six players wrote for the group with an additional Mingus tune, Monk, Bunk And Vice Versa.  Right out of the Posi-Tone playbook – a mix of straight ahead ballads (Strickland’s Presence), soulful mid-tempo strolls (McCaslin’s Memphis Redux), infectious groovers (Bernard’s Tomorrow Blues), and scorching solos (Gillece’s The Great Quarterly).  Jim Hynes wrote on Making a Scene, “If you’re looking for a bit more adventure from the typically straight-ahead Posi-Tone repertoire, you will find it here in these expressive compositions and animated playing.”

Jovia Armstrong and Eunoia Society – The Antidote Suite (Black Earth Music, 07/15/2022).  Nicole Mitchell – flute, Amr Fahmy – piano / Rhodes, Jeff Parker – guitar, Leslie Deshazor – violin, Isaiah Sharkey – bass, Jovia Armstrong – hybrid cahon kit, Yaw Agyeman – vocals, Teh’Ray Hale – rapper.  

This is percussionist / composer Jovia Armstrong’s 2022 release, just making it into our library.  Afrofuturist and AACM member Dr. Armstrong is on the faculty of the University of Virginia McIntire Department of Music and has performed with the student Jazz Ensemble in a concert featuring her compositions.  Britt Robson wrote on Jazz Times, “Jazz heads will delight in the closing section, Shades and Shapes, a journey that proceeds from delicate, in-the-pocket funk into DeShazor’s extended, sinuous violin workout, which fades into a gauze of effects until the soothing Rhodes of Amr Fahmy holds sway for a long, smooth landing. Comparisons to Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi band from the 1970s are purposeful and warranted.”  Stay tuned, Armstrong’s latest release with Eunoia Society, Inception, has just come out and I look forward to adding it to the library shortly.

Heidi Martin – Gifts & Sacrifices (Self Produced, released 04/29/2022).  Josh Evans – trumpet, Tim Warfield – tenor saxophone, George Burton – piano, Raymond Angry – piano, Paul Bollenbach – guitar, Tarus Mateen – bass, Eric Harland – drums, Heidi Martin – vocals, Paige Brown – background vocals.

An artist new to me, singer Heidi Martin has released a set of original compositions backed by a fine group of well-respected players.  Marlbank writes, “At times you land as if in Joni Mitchell territory time-travelling as the record dips and darts into unexpected areas and sharing the same oblique poeticism of Mitchell and a certain spirit of adventure musically and lyrically that lifts the spirits. If you’re into Dena DeRose, Patricia Barber or Tierney Sutton step this way.”  This release from April 2022 has just reached our library.

A good collection of music this week.  I hope these notes help you discover something you will love to hear.

Russell Perry, Jazz at 100 Now!


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