New Jazz Releases – 07/08/2024

Monika Herzig

Some terrific music this week, including a surprise out of the blue – Michael Pagán and a two saxophone ensemble.  Monika Herzig has reconvened her ground-breaking all-woman ensemble Sheroes for a fourth disc.  And highly recommended new work from Ken Peplowski, April Varner, Bill Banfield and Bruno Hubert.  This should keep you busy.

Monika Herzig’ Sheroes – All In Good Time (Zoho Music, releases 07/19/2024). Reut Regev – trombone, Camille Thurman – tenor saxophone / vocals, Jamie Baum – flute, Monika Herzig – piano / keyboards, Leni Stern – guitar, Gina Schwarz – bass, Rosa Avila – drums.

Pianist / composer and Charlottesville favorite formed the all-woman band Sheroes a decade ago to make a point about women in jazz.  Much has been accomplished in gender equity in the past decade and more needs to be done.  Meanwhile Herzig has assembled trombonist Reut Regev, flutist-extraordinaire Jamie Baum (What Times Are these, previewed 03/25/2024) and guitarist Leni Stern from that initial release and the two others in the interim.  Drummer Rosa Avila has been with the band for three releases and new to the ensemble are Camille Thurman on tenor and Gina Schwartz on bass.  Herzig’s writing is strong as always and the ensemble is on their game.  Highly recommended.

Michael Pagán – Paganova (Capri Records, releases 07/19/2024). Dave Chael – tenor saxophone / alto saxophone / soprano saxophone, Michael Herrera – tenor saxophone / alto saxophone / soprano saxophone, Michael Pagán – piano, Louie Pagán – bass, Ray DeMarchi – drums.

I don’t know who these players are and know nothing about them except that some of them come from Kansas, but make no mistake, Michael Pagán and his band make compelling music that I cannot get enough of.  The dual saxophone leads work like magic, sometimes calling to mind classic tenor match ups (Dexter Gordon – Wardell Grey, Sonny Stitt – Gene Ammons).  The whole band is in synch from start to finish – drop the needle anywhere.

Review:  Paris Move

Jeff Coffin – Only The Horizon (Ear Up Records, releases 07/19/2024)Carter Beauford, Victor Wooten, Béla Fleck, MonoNeon, Bill Evans, Keb’ Mo’, Nir Felder, Nate Smith, Keith Carlock, Derico Watson, Tony Hall, Viktor Krauss, Stefan Lessard, Alana Rocklin, Jay White, Jon Cowherd, Leo Genovese, Buddy Strong, Emmanuel Echem, Rod McGaha, Rashawn Ross, Ray Mason, Cory Wong, Ezra Kessler, Rory ‘R.A.P.’ Ferreira, Roy ‘Futureman’ Wooten, Ryoko Suzuki.

Solid swinger from saxophonist / flutist Jeff Coffin, member of the Dave Matthews Band with a career of his own as a leader.  There’s a lot going on here with all sorts of instrumentation including dobro, banjo, accordion.  Some funk some blues, some jazz.

Review: Paris Move

Miles Okazaki – Miniature America(Cygnus Records, releases 07/19/2024).  Jacob Garchik – trombone, Jon Irabagon – mezzo soprano / soprano saxophone / slide saxophone, Anna Webber – tenor saxophone / flute, Caroline Davis – alto saxophone, Matt Mitchell – piano, Miles Okazaki – guitar, Patricia Brennan – vibraphone, Fay Victor – vocals, Jen Shyu – vocals, Ganavya – vocals.

New York avant-garde guitarist Miles Okazaki surrounded himself with ten like-minded musicians to record bits of music and sound that were then composed into pieces in post-production.  It is an interesting technique with surprising results.

Review: Broadway World

Parlor Greens – Parlor Greens (Colemine Records, releases 07/19/2024).  Adam Scone – organ, Jimmy James – guitar, Tim Carman – drums.

The debut offering from organ trio Parlor Greens is a Memphis Soul revival tour de force from the label that brought us the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio.  Like that band, Parlor Greens features guitarist Jimmy James who channels Steve Cropper from time-to-time.  Ten originals plus My Sweet Lord – mountains of funk destined to live on Induced to Judder.

Bill Banfield’s Jazz Urbane – Take Time to Listen (Blue Moon, releases 07/19/2024).  Bill Banfield – guitar.

Known as a composer of symphonies, operas and chamber works and as a (now retired) professor at Berklee, Bill Banfield is also an accomplished guitarist inspired by Kenny Burrell and Earl Klugh.  This solo acoustic guitar disc is a real treat with unhurried versions of standards (Autumn Leaves, Some Day My Prince) and reimagined pop tunes (You’ve Got A Friend, Your Song).  Banfield is a fertile improvisor with a great tone.  Loved this.

Eric Hollaway – Jazz-ish (NemBleu Entertainment, releases 07/15/2024).  Chris Tedesco – trumpet, Benito Gonzalez – piano, Glenn Douglass – keyboards, Peter Mongaya – guitar, Will Slater – bass, Josh Green – drums, Cedric Givens – percussion / keyboards, Eric Hollaway – vocals.

What an amazing voice bass singer Erik Hollaway has!   The whole package has an RnB vibe with an indifferent backing track and a couple of standards thrown in (Autumn Leaves, Lush Life).  I get the feeling that Holloway could make any repertoire sound great.  I’d love to hear him with a great band and great arrangements.

Ken Peplowski – Live At Mezzrow (Cellar Music, released 07/05/2024).  Ken Peplowski – clarinet / tenor saxophone, Ted Rosenthal – piano, Martin Wind – bass, Willie Jones III – drums. 

Veteran New York multi-reediest Ken Peplowski pulls out his tenor and clarinet for a live quartet date and the results are stunning.  His ballad playing is just beautiful – All The things You Are on clarinet played at a crawl – you can’t beat it.  Peplowski is a total pro, highly recommended.

Review: Jazz Views, Paris Move

John Lee – Second Wind (Cellar Music, released 07/05/2024).  John Lee – piano, Peter Washington – bass, Kenny Washington – drums.

Vancouver-based multi-instrumentalist John Lee’s debut (The Artist, 2022) presented him as a bass player – a role he played on Cory Weeds Little Big Band recording Home Cookin’ (previewed 10/30/2023).  Then this spring, he showed up as the organ player in Mike Clement’s trio (Hittin’ It, previewed 3/25/2024).  Now he is back for his second release as a leader and he is holding down the piano stool in a trio with Peter and Kenny Washington!  A versatile performer with a delicate keyboard touch.

April Varner – April (Cellar Music, released 06/29/2024).  Benny Benack III – trumpet / vocals, Dayna Stephens – tenor saxophone / soprano saxophone, Caelan Cardello – piano, Russell Malone – guitar, Reuben Rogers – bass, Miguel Russell – drums, April Varner – vocals. 

April Varner is a formidable new singer and her debut is terrific.  She has recorded a set of tunes with the word “April” in the title –  a slightly goofy proposition, but she carries it off with her amazing chops, huge range, delicate dynamics, speedy scatting, clever vocalese and solid accompaniment.    Mature beyond her years – highly recommended.

Review: Jazz Views, Paris Move

Eliane Elias – Time and Again (Candid, released 06/28/2024).  Mike Mainieri – vibraphone, Bill Frisell – guitar, Conrado Goys – guitar, Daniel Santiago – guitar, Marcus Teixeira – guitar, Marc Johnson – bass, Marcelo Mariano – bass, Peter Erskine – drums, Edu Ribeiro – drums, Cuca Teixeira – drums, Marivaldo  dos Santos – percussion, Davi Vieira – percussion, Mark Kibble – backing vocals, Djavan – vocals, Eliane Elias – vocals / piano / keyboards. 

For a set of eight originals, celebrated Brazilian singer / pianist Eliane Elias presents a spare reading with primarily a guitar – bass – drums backing.  I heard very little to bring me back for a second listening.

Bruno Hubert Trio – Fire Waltz(Cellar Music, release 06/21/2024).  Bruno Hubert – piano, James Meger – bass Joe Poole – drums.

Vancouver-based pianist Bruno Hubert has reconvened his long-time trio for a recording of standards and modern jazz classics (e.g. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Fire Waltz.). He has a remarkable ability to recompose songs as he goes, leading to extended takes that eventually make their way back to the original head.  I liked this one a lot.

Patrick Wolff Quintet – Bay Blue (Bop City, released 06/11/2024).  Mike Olmos – trumpet, Patrick Wolff – alto saxophone / tenor saxophone, Keith Saunders – piano, Eric Markowitz – bass, Evan Hughes – drums.

Straight-up mainstream jazz from San Francisco saxophonist Patrick Wolff and his swinging quintet.  You’ll hear elements of swing, bebop, and 60’s soul jazz in these well played and well-composed selections.

Review: Making A Scene

Fun for your ears.

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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