New Jazz Releases – 09/11/2023
Fall is near and the flood of new jazz releases has begun. My name is Steve Harris and I’m subbing for Rus again this week. David Soyka will take over next week and Gary Funston the week after. This week we have the new release from trumpeter Eddie Henderson (who comes to town in a couple of weeks) plus new music from Veronica Swift, Miki Yamanaka and many more. I hope you discover some great new music.
Witness to History (Smoke Sessions, releases Sept 15)
Eddie Henderson – trumpet; Donald Harrison – alto saxophone; George Cables – piano; Gerald Cannon – bass; Lenny White – drums; Mike Clark – drums on “Scorpio Rising”
82 year trumpeter and jazz master Eddie Henderson remains busy. He just headlined a week at Smoke Jazz and he’ll be coming to our area to headline the Mad Jazz Festival at Veritas Vineyards in Afton on September 23. His new album features some funk, ballads, bop and standards and the playing is excellent throughout. He’ll be closing out the mainstage at the festival and is highly recommended. Henderson’s career goes back decades and includes stints with legends like Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, Pharoah Sanders and Art Blakey. He is a member of the Cookers and leads his own ensembles. Smoke Jazz streamed Henderson’s shows this weekend and the band was exciting to see, especially on some classic Lee Morgan and Eddie Harris pieces. Henderson will turn 83 next month and his playing is as powerful and compelling as ever.
Synergy: Bobby Kapp plays the music of Richard Sussman (Tweed Boulevard Records, released Sept 1)
Bobby Kapp: drums; Zach Brock: violin; Aaron Irwin: saxophone; Abraham Burton: saxophone, alto; John Clark: french horn; Richard Sussman: piano; Harvie S: bass, acoustic.
Drummer Bobby Kapp is best known for his improvisational skills on projects in Mexico and Cuba. He has been part of free-for-alls with Matt Shipp, Dave Burrell and many more. For this record, Kapp enlisted pianist Richard Sussman, another artist known for free improvisation, to compose an albums worth of pieces. The results are surprising, with melodic tunes with a Monkish angularity and a real mix of large ensemble arrangements. Kapp is now 81 and shows no signs of slowign down.
Shades of Rainbow (Cellar Music, released Sept 8)
Miki Yamanaka – piano; Mark Turner – tenor saxophone; Tyrone Allen – bass; Jimmy Macbride – drums
Miki Yamanaka is a youg pianist originally from Kobe, Japan and a resident of NYC since 2012.
She is a powerful pianist who worked with artists ranging from Philip Harper and Antonio Hart to Victor Lewis and Peter Bernstein. On this fine set of originals, Yamanaka is joined by her regular rhythm section and special guest, the amazing saxophonist Mark Turner. Her playing is fluid, lyrical and inventive and the trio follows her every cue. Turner has worked with her before and this recording was made after the group toured and worked out the complex pieces on the road. The result is a confident sound full of invention and emotion. Check this one out.
Veronica Swift (Mack Avenue, releases September 15)
Veronica Swift: vocals; Adam Klipple: piano and keyboards ; Philip Norris: electric bass; Alex Claffy: upright bass; Chris Whiteman: guitars,
Brian Viglione: drums; James Sarno: trumpet; Troy Roberts: tenor sax; David Leon: baritone sax.
People around here who followed Veronica Swift’s career from when she was a high school phenom will be familiar with the breadth of her musical interests. Sure, like her Mom, she is an amazing jazz singer with a scatting style that puts her in the top realm. She has gained widespread recognition for her jazz chops and plays jazz concerts and festivals around the world. But she also loves heavy metal, claims Freddie Mercury as a major influence and dabbles in too many vocal styles to list.
Swift describes this personal artistic statement on her new album as “transgenre.” “I grew up immersed in the culture of jazz music, blessed to have had some of the greats as mentors, and I felt a deep familial duty to uphold that” she says, reflecting on her parents – jazz singer and educator, Stephanie Nakasian, and bebop pianist, Hod O’Brien.
“But as rooted in jazz as I’ve been, there’s a uniquely visceral power in rock and soul music that’s always fueled my creative passion, and rather than mask or confine that part of my identity, the people I admire most show themselves unabashedly and that’s the kind of tradition I want to be a part of.”
After moving to Los Angeles, Swift met drummer Brian Viglione of the punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls and they hit it off musically. He co-produced the new album and provides stellar drumming across all the styles. The record features a big band on some tunes and it swings hard. Swift branches out into the blues, hard rock when she covers a Nine Inch Nails tune (Viglione drummed with them for a while), and even Italian opera.
Swift was scheduled to headline the Lake Anna Jazz Festival a few months ago and her appearance was moved indoors due to weather. She came out on fire, ripping through the Nine Inch Nails tune Closer and the jazz audience didn’t know what hit them until a break when she broke out into scat. The band, anchored by Viglione, is a powerhouse. Jazz fans might need to approach this one with an open mind to keep up with the broad interests of this rising star.
While We Have Time (Orgin Records, release 9/15)
Maddie Vogler: saxophone; Tito Carrillo: trumpet; Matt Gold: guitar; Jake Shapiro: piano; Samuel Peters: bass; Neil Hemphill: drums.
Debut album from Chicago based saxophonist featuring all original compositions. She explores
her Cuban family heritage and other themes dealing with her identity in a very personal way. The alto/trumpet front line is very effective, with colors and voicing driving her charts. Trumpeter Carrillo is Vogler’s mentor and the interplay with them shows years of cultivation. A really nice first effort from the young saxophonist.
Aire (Sunnyside Communications, released May 5, 2023)
Magos Herrera – vocals; Ingrid Jensen – trumpet & flugelhorn; Dori Caymmi – voice; Vinicius Gomes – acoustic guitar; Sam Minaie – bass; Alex Kautz – drums, percussion; Blair McMillen – piano; plus strings and horn sections
In her album notes for Aire, Mexican singer and composer Magos Herrera says she transformed the grief, fears, and loneliness of a deadly plague into a luminous collection of songs representing “a celebration of our humanity and the healing power of music.” The album features newly commissioned works and classics from the Great Latin American Songbook. Her reedy voice is spellbinding on some of the wordless songs. This is a record that can fit comfortably on our jazz, world music and even folk shows.
James Brandon Lewis and Red Lily Quintet
For Mahalia, With Love (Tao Forms, released Sept 8)
James Brandon Lewis: tenor saxophone, arrangements; Kirk Knuffke: cornet William Parker: bass; Chad Taylor: drums; Chris Hoffman: cello
Expectations are high for the new James Brandon Lewis after his last album in 2021 was named album of the year in both downbeat and JazzTimes. For the new album, Lewis tackles a set of traditional tunes associated with Mahalia Jackson. There is some beatuful playing with the spiritual side come through strongly. Other pieces drift into free jazz, with caucophony and aggression conveying an array of conflicted emotions. The backing musicians are strong, with basssist William Parker propelling it. A challenging cd with some moments of tranquility.
The cd and lp version also include a bonus cd/lp called These Are Soulful Days featuring Lewis with the Lutoslawski Quartet performing his first composition for strings.
Bowmanville (Stoneagle Music, Released June 28, 2022)
Ethan Adelsman (Violin), Graham Nelson (Harmonica/Vocals), Mason Jiller (Guitar), Oliver Horton (Upright Bass), and Noah Plotkin (Drums).
Bowmanville is one of Chicago’s top bands, specializing in Jazz, Blues, Gypsy Jazz, and Rock Fusion. They are a versatile group featurign some fine violin by Ethan Adelsman.
Cartas Ao Vento (Taina Music, released Sept 8)
Claudia Villela (voice and pandeiro); Marcelo Costa (drummer); Jorge Helder (bassist ); Toninho Horta and Romero Lubambo (guitarists); Romero Lubambo and Zé Nogueira (Reeds), Vitor Golççlves (Accordion)
Vocalist and pianist Villela is originally from Rio, Brazil and she has lived in Santa Cruz, CA since 1984. For the new project, she recorded in Brazil and focused on her original pieces. The album flows through many styles with beautiful vocals and spirited performances from her Brazilian sidemen. Downbeat says this of her music: “all discussions about Claudia Villela’s singing and songwriting necessarily start with a nod to the dizzying scope and depth of her improvisatory skill.”
Homegrown (self-released on Sept 8)
Andrew Danforth- trombone, composer; Sean Imboden- tenor sax, clarinet; Christopher Pitts- piano; Nick Tucker- bass; Carrington Clinton- drum set
Trombonist Andrew Danforth is a part fo the vibrant Indianapolis jazz scene. He composed all the tunes and works with other Indianapolis players. There is some promise in the pieces that combine hard bop and modern art music while focusing on natural inspirations in his beloved hometown.
John Stein Trio
No Goodbyes (Whaling City Sound, Releases Sept 15)
John Stein (guitar); Ed Lucie (bass guitar); Mike Connors (drums); with Cindy Scott (vocals)
Veteran jazz guitarist John Stein’s 18th release No Goodbyes almost didn’t happen when he developed a rare autoimmune disease as the pandemic was ending. He put his guitar on the shelf after spending several months in the hospital. Luckily, he has recovered and was reinvigorated by the experience. He brought his regular trio into the studio along with Berklee professor and Louisiana native Cindy Scott who sings on 5 tracks. Stein’s approach is not the machine gun, hot dog guitar slinger, but a musical player who wrings the feeling out of each note. Guitar fans should check this one out.
The Diva Jazz Orchestra
“30″ – Live at Dizzy’s Club (Diva Jazz Orchestra, released August 25, 2023)
Sherrie Maricle–DRUMMER & LEADER; Alexa Tarantino–alto saxophone; Laura Dreyer–tenor saxophone; Mercedes Beckman–alto saxophone; Jade Coss–alto saxophone;
Jade Elliot–tenor sax; Leigh Pilzer-baritone saxophone; Jennifer Krupa–trombone; Sara Jacovino–trombone; Leslie Havens–bass trombone; Liesl Whitaker–LEAD TRUMPET; Jami Dauber–TRUMPET; Barbara Laronga–TRUMPET; Rachel Therrien–TRUMPET; Tomoko
Ohno–PIANO; Noriko Ueda–bass.
The all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra, led by drummer Sherrie Maricle, celebrates their 30th anniversary with the new release 30 recorded live at Dizzy’s Club in NYC The band swings hard through a collection of jazz and blues standards by composers like Duke Ellington, Memphis Slim, Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim and even Jimmy Durante. A highlight is the 13 minute tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, originally arranged by Tonight Show alum Tommy Newsom and featuring excellent vocals by Sue Giles along with strong piano from Tomoko Ohno. While the players have changed over the years, this remains one vibrant big band.