New Jazz Releases – 11/13/2023

Jerry Bergonzi

This week brings us small group sessions from saxophonists Jerry Bergonzi, JD Allen, Mike DiRubbo, and Kevin Sun, pianists Bernie Senensky, Gabriel Guerrero, and Ray Gallon and bassist Arthur Kell.  In addition, vocalist Vanessa Perea serves up a quartet date while Angela DeNiro helms a rousing big band date.

Jerry Bergonzi – Extra Extra (Savant Records, released 10/20/2023).  Phil Grenadier – trumpet, Jerry Bergonzi – tenor saxophone, Sheryl Bailey – guitar, Harvie S – bass, Luther Gray – drums.

Boston’s Jerry Bergonzi, a veteran tenor player with a big warm sound has assembled a Boston / Berklee quartet plus ubiquitous New York bassist Harvie S for a set of seven originals plus one by the bassist.  Begonzi’s The Truth is a great example of his compelling ballad playing and his ingratiating tone, with a relaxed solo by Harvie S.  Sheryl Bailey plays beautifully throughout.  Recommended.

Bernie Senensky – Moment To Moment (Cellar Music, releases 11/24/2023).  Eric Alexander – tenor saxophone, Bernie Senensky – piano, Kieran Overs – bass, Dave Young – bass, Joe Farnsworth – drums, Morgan Childs – drums.

This releases consist of two sessions recorded 20 years apart (2001 & 2020) with Eric Alexander on tenor and leader Bernie Senensky on piano anchoring both sessions with different bassists and drummers.  Senensky is a veteran Canadian hard bop pianist who synchs nicely with tenor hero Eric Alexander.

Gabriel Guerrero & Quantum – Equilibro (Origin Records, releases 11/17/2023).  Seth Trachy – saxophone, Gabriel Guerrero – piano, Will Slater – bass, Felix Lecaros – drums, Fung Chern Hwei – strings, Guillermo Barrón – percussion.

Columbian-born, New York-based pianist Gabriel Guerrero has released a set of 11 originals from a quartet featuring saxophonist Seth Trachy (2020’s Zygmon with Miguel Zenon) with guest strings and percussion on one tune each.  This is a quiet, mostly mid-tempo exploration of often complex musical themes, lead by some serious piano chops.  The South American roots of the leader are not not as evident as his fealty to modern jazz orthodoxy.

Ray Gallon – Grand Company (Cellar Music, releases 11/17/2023). Ray Gallon – piano, Ron Carter – bass, Lewis Nash – drums.

Pianist Ray Gallon has released a set of five originals and four covers with uber bassist and drummer Ron Carter and Lewis Nash, recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s iconic studio.  No less an authority than pianist Bill Charlap endorsed this disc, writing, “This is my favorite kind of trio playing – the inimitable and distinctive personal and collective sound of Ray Gallon, Ron Carter and Lewis Nash has transparency and clarity, where every note and gesture mean something. Ray Gallon’s music is informed, passionate, and personal. He possesses a unique rhythmic imagination and a wrought iron vocabulary. Grand Company is a milestone.”  Their sweet cover of Old Folks has its roots in a recurring duet gig that Carter and Gallon played in the 80s.  A lovely record.

Mike DiRubbo – Inner Light (Truth Revolution, releases 11/17/2023).  Mike DiRubbo – alto saxophone, Brian Charette – Hammond B3 organ, Andrew Renfroe – guitar, Jongkuk Kim – drums.

The latest from alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo (Steve Davis) latest highlights his very lyrical playing (I Love The Same) in a set of nine originals plus two covers (including John Coltrane’s infrequently covered Straight Street).  The quartet brings together veterans Brian Charette (Ken Fowser, Farnell Newton) on organ, Andrew Renfroe (Tina Raymond, Carmen Lundy) on guitar, and Jongkuk Kim (Massimo Biolcati) on drums.  Well played.

Arthur Kell & Speculation Quartet – Live At LunÀtico(Origin Records, releases 11/17/2023).  Nate Radley – guitar, Brad Shepik – guitar, Arthur Kell – bass, Allan Medford – drums.

The guitar – guitar – bass – drums quartet lineup is infrequently recorded but this release from bassist Arthur Kell illustrates its potential in a highly successful manner.  Much of the credit goes to the two guitarists (often recorded Nate Radley and Brad Shepik) who complement each other greatly, while staying out of each other’s way.  I really enjoyed the super clean guitar sound without a lot of electronics and fuzz.  The program of ten originals was recorded live at LunÀtico, a club co-founded by Kell that is central to the Brooklyn scene.

Kevin Sun – Depths Of Memory – The Depths In Slow Motion(Endectomorph Records, releases 10/27/2023) digital only.  Adam O’Farrill – trumpet,  Kevin Sun – tenor saxophone, Dana Saul – piano, Walter Stinson – bass, Matt Honor – drums.

Kevin Sun – Depths Of Memory – From All This Stillness(Endectomorph Records, released 07/07/2023) digital only.  Adam O’Farrill – trumpet, Kevin Sun – tenor saxophone, Dana Saul – piano, Simón Willson – bass, Matt Honor – drums, Dayeon Seok – drums.

Depths of Memory is a two-part release with The Depths In Slow Motion just out, following From All This Stillness released in July.  Both releases are anchored by the terrific front line of Kevin Sun on tenor and the remarkable Adam O’Farrill on trumpet.  There is much to enjoy in these releases – powerful unison passages, compelling counterpoint, beautiful solo work from Sun, O’Farrill and Saul, fine writing by Sun.  Dan McClenaghan wrote on AlAboutJazz, “This accessible but free music is not a torrent or a howling gale; it is more a placid passing of time, a following of the flow of moving molecules on their unpredictable paths toward the inevitable—Ornette Coleman minus the freneticism, with more focus… The Depths Of Memory is two horns and a rhythm section, but it is an ambitious work. Getting a handle on it takes some deep listening that is well-rewarded. Simple on its surface, with depths revealed to those who do the immersion, those who allow themselves to drift down the alley or ride the river’s flow.”

JD Allen – This (Savant, released 10/20/2023).  JD Allen – tenor saxophone, Alex Bonney – electronics, Gwilym Jones – drums.

This is a new sound for tenor saxophonist JD Allen.  Most of Allen’s releases have been in a tenor – bass – drums format with occasional additions of a guitarist or pianist to make a quartet.  In this case, along with dummer Gwilym Jones, the trio includes Alex Bonney on electronics.  To my ears, the electronics don’t add substantively with what is a tenor – drums recording with colorful sounds in the background.  I love Allen’s hard driving and powerful playing, but I would not count this release among the best of an otherwise commanding discography.

Vanessa Perea – This Is The Moment (La Reserve, released 08/11/2023).  Adam Birnbaum – piano, Neal Miner – bass, Aaron Kimmel – drums, Vanessa Perea – vocals.

With a flair for the theatrical, singer Vanessa Perea has put forward a strong program of material from the Great American Songbook.  Primarily ballads, Perea does cut loose with Bird’s Anthropology.  Tasteful accompanist Adam Birbaum (Robert Edwards, Quincy David, Behn Gillece) leads a highly supportive piano trio in support.

Angela DeNiro with the Ron Aprea Big Band – Swingin’ With Legends 2(Early Autumn Productions, released 06/18/2023).  Ron Aprea Big Band with Randy Brecker – trumpet, Ken Peplowski – clarinet, Lew Tabackin – tenor saxophone / flute, Angela DeNiron – vocals.

This is a long overdue reprise of singer Angela DeNiro and bandleader Ron Aprea’s 1988 Legends release.  While burnished by the presence of several name guests (Randy Brecker, Ken Peplowski, Lew Tabackin), this band needs little in the way of support – it is a classic big band, more than capable of swinging their way through this repertoire with their very talented singer in the lead.  Nicholas F Mondello wrote on AllaboutJazz, “DeNiro is a thoroughly inviting vocal instrument. She possesses a lithe, swinging approach to lines and lyrics. With vocal chops more on the high, bright side, she stars brilliantly across the date. Her phrasing and pitch sensitivity are dead-on… The opener New York Blues [Quincy Jones & Peggy Lee] is a flat-out swinger with DeNiro belting over the blazing band. A solo from trumpeter Bryan Davis adds to the volcanic reaction. The swingfest rolls on with [Cole Porter’s] Easy to Love, featuring a classy Ken Peplowski opening cadenza and, later on, after DeNiro loves easily, a tasty ride.”  This release has many highlights including a roaring On Green Dolphin Street with a driving contribution by altoist Todd Bashore (Christian McBride Big Band, Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band) and a swinging scat chorus by DeNiro.  Recommended.

I hope you hear something that inspires you.

Russell Perry, Jazz at 100 Now!


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