Monthly Archives: November 2009

Sean Jones
Kaleidoscope
(Mack Avenue Records)

 
Trumpeter Sean Jones is one of the most exciting voices in jazz and deserves tremendous acclaim for what he’s doing to advance the idiom. On Kaleidoscope, Jones blends jazz with a healthy dose of funk and gospel to create a truly entertaining result. The album features Jones’ labelmate Kim Burrell on a number of tracks including “You’re the Reason”. The recording also features the vocal talents of Carolyn Perteete on “Esperanto”, Gretchen Parlato, J.D. Walter and Sachal Vasandani. In an album that leans more towards vocals than instrumentals, it could be easy to drown out the album’s signator, but the selection of singers and songs combine to complement the trumpeter’s brilliant tone on this excellent project.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Allison”.

Tracks: Allison, Journey, Never Let Me Go, I Come To Thee, So Wonderful, Esperanto, It’s Just A Matter of Time (Intro), It’s Just A Matter of Time, Say Brah, Blak Music, Kaleidoscope, The Sluice, You’re The Reason.

Review: Lizz Wright Live @ Alys Steven Center – Birmingham

On Friday, October 23, 2009, I had the great pleasure of seeing Lizz Wright perform live at Alys Stephen Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Wright walked on to the stage in bare feet and a hypnotically, radiant red dress to a tremendous ovation. She told the audience of approximately 200 people, “It’s really good to be here in Birmingham. I really mean it. I’m not a person that just says that. It is really good to be here.” She spoke of spending a nice afternoon walking around in the Five Points area.

With that, the music struck up, Ms. Wright removed her earrings and what followed was 2 hours of pure artistry and sonic amazement, with the acoustics of the theater and Wright’s voice in total agreement.

The setlist for the evening covered a broad swath of the singer’s three albums, plus a soulful version of  the classic “C.C. Rider”. Wright’s performance of “I Idolize You” was as seductive as the dress she wore. There was a noticeable roar of approval when the band launched into the title track of her first album recording, Salt . In fact, there was quite a bit of interaction between singer and audience throughout the show. For her version of Sweet Honey In The Rock’s “Hey Mann”, Wright picked up a guitar from the stand to play, when a female audience member yelled out in delight, to which the singer playfully quipped, “Don’t get your hopes up!”

Wright’s band included David Cook on piano and organ, Robin Macatangay on guitars, Nicholas D’Amato on bass, and Brannen Temple on drums. Macatangay solos was tremendous throughout, while Cook could often be seen shaking his head in as much admiration and amazement at Wright’s performance as the audience.

After the show, a huge ovation and the perfectly-chosen Led Zeppelin tune, “Thank You”, as an encore, many in the audience who gathered in the lobby seemed stunned by what they had just witnessed. A gentleman standing in line to buy Wright’s CDs commented on the show saying, “I feel like I underpaid”, while one woman whose first introduction to Wright’s music was that night wondered aloud, “Why haven’t heard of her before? She’s incredible!” The evening would get even more so, as words came that Wright would be coming to the lobby to meet members of the audience and sign autographs. 

Wright and her band were as gracious in meeting the audience and there is humble regality to the singer that can not be ignored. It can honestly be said that Wright’s noted feeling of appreciation for being in Birmingham on one rainy night in late October was more than mutual.

– D.Glenn Daniels

Melissa Walker
In The Middle Of It All
(Sunnyside Recordings)

 
From the very first song you know that this album isn’t just a collection of songs, but something personal to vocalist Melissa Walker. In The Middle Of It All is something of a comeback for the singer who was off the scene for some time due to vocal cord paralysis that resulted from an infection.  Many of the songs, which Melissa picked for the return project seem to have a theme of coming back from loss, whether it’s from a health setback or the end of a romance. Among the songs she selected in this regard are Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up”, and the title track which sets the mood for many of the album. Drummer Clarence Penn co-produced the project with Walker and plays on it as well. He’s joined by Adam Goldberg on piano, Christian McBride on bass, Adam Rogers and Keith Ganz on guitar, and Gregoire Maret who plays harmonica on a number of the tracks. The many of the don’t swing in the traditional sense, but there’s a stunning calmness about that is appealing, making this project a strong return from a very strong talent, both off and on, again, the music scene.

Click here to listen to a clip of “The Way He Makes Me Feel”.

Tracks: In The Middle of It All, Don’t Give Up, The Way He Makes Me Feel, I’ll Sing A Song, The Other Woman (part one), Forget Me (part two), Mr. Bojangles, If You Could Love Me, Invitation, I’m With You Now, Our Love Remains, Where or When.”

Bill Boynton

November 19, 2009

Four years ago this month, both the world of jazz, and I lost a good friend.

Bill Boynton was the host and flamekeeper of jazz from noon to 6PM every Sunday on WVAS, a public radio station on the campus of Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. Bill was the most jovial guy I ever knew, with a laugh that could be described as “howling”. He was also one of the most conversant people I knew – on ANY subject.

I would often go over to hang out with Bill in the studio on Sunday afternoons, many times to take him some new music to check out. Whenever I’d go, I’d have to plan to spend at least 30 minutes there. We might start out talking jazz, moving from there to sports, to politics to computer technology and eventually some hilariously, bad B-movies that he wanted me to check out. You can’t do all that in an hour, that was at LEAST two hours.

Bill was addicted to NPR (National Public Radio) to a great degree than me. The hours we spent (laughing) about some segment on Car Talk or A Prairie Home Companion were too numerous to count. I remember once asking Bill if he had heard a Celtic band on radio show that aired on the station on Friday nights and he replied, “Yeah, man. Weren’t they jammin’?” You don’t meet many people you can connect with on most anything.

It’s too long and involved a story for this session, but Bill had a indirect role in my moving to Montgomery. The city does not feel the same without his presence. He made Montgomery a little bit brighter. This city misses, Jazz misses, and I miss Bill Boynton.

We dedicate the re-dedication of The Jazz Page to our late, great friend.

– D.Glenn Daniels

Benny Reid
Escaping Shadows
(Concord Jazz)
 
While many of musicians of his generation have fled for smooth jazz pastures, saxophonist Benny Reid continues to bridge the gap between jazz and contemporary jazz on his latest release Escaping Shadows. Reid’s music is adventurous and explores in a way that is rare to hear these days. But his sound is also clearly the product of influences such as Pat Metheny, as we hear on his composition “New Days” with vocalist Jeff Taylor’s accompaniment. There’s also a hint of Santana in the guitar work of Richard Padron on “Sleeping Beauty”. On the softer side, Reid’s ballad “The Most Beautiful Girl I Ever Knew” harkens back to something that Coltrane might have had in his repertoire. Escaping Shadows is a throughly entertaining recording for those of us who appreciate jazz in a contemporary tense. 

Click here to listen to a clip of “Sleeping Beauty”.

Tracks: The Final Chapter, Five Years Later, Sleeping Beauty, Facing The Edge, New Days, The Most Beautiful Girl I Ever Knew, Firelight, Cutting, Always & Forever, Escaping.

Jackie Ryan Doozy
(Open Art)

Jackie Ryan is a real-deal jazz singer, as she proves once again on her latest release, Doozy. The recording is a double CD edition with a total of 20 wonderful performances. It’s not just Ryan’s voice that stands out on her projects, but also the creativity of the arrangements to complement her unique approach to a song. The caliber of musicians that the Bay area singer assembles on this effort is a tribute to their respect for her as a vocalist. Joining Ryan on this recording are pianist Cyrus Chestnut, Eric Alexander on saxophone, guitar legend Romero Lumbambo and trumpet Jeremy Pelt who takes every song on which he performs up a notch. The album is tilted just slightly towards ballads, contentwise, but Ryan also proves that she can belt with the best of ’em on tunes like the title track and “I Must Have That Man”. Jackie Ryan is one of our favorite jazz singers and projects like this are the reason she’s held in such high esteem.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Doozy”.

Tracks: (Disc1) Doozy, You’ll See, Caminhos Cruzados, Do Something, With The Wind And Rain In Your Hair, Speak Low, I Must Have That Man, Dat Dere, Beautiful Moons Ago, My How The Time Goes By.

(Disc 2): Opportunity Please Knock, I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do, Brigas Nunca Mais/A Felicidade, Spepring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, Solamente Una Vez, Summer Serenade, Get Rid of Monday, Midnight Sun, Tell Me More, And Then Some, Some Other Time