Monthly Archives: March 2010

Lionel Loueke

(Blue Note Records)

Guitarist Lionel Loueke’s latest release M’Waliko, is a true sonic journey. Combining his percussive finger-style playing, mouth clicks and vocalizing, Loueke makes music that is somewhere between his native African country Benin and street corners of New York City, where he currently resides. He’s joined in this effort by Esperanza Spalding who plays bass ands vocals on a couple of tracks, likewise bassist Richard Bona. Vocalist Angelique Kidjo, who comes from the same village where Loueke was born, also performs on two tracks. The guitarist’s virtuosity and creative musical license make this a recording definitely worth hearing.

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

Tracks: Ami O, Griot, Twins, Wishes, Flying, Intro to L.L., L.L., Nefertiti, Vi Ma Yon, Shazoo, Dangbe, Hide Life.

Sheryl Bailey

A New Promise
(MCG Jazz)

Sheryl Bailey was 18 years old when she saw the late guitarist Emily Remler perform at the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Festival and promised herself that she too would one day master the instrument. She kept her word. A New Promise, Bailey’s sixth recording, an eight-selection tribute to her hero, features three of Remler’s compositions and an equal number of her own contributions. Bailey’s virtuostic accumen, highlighted by solid arrangements and performances from the 16-piece Three Rivers Jazz Orchestra make this not only an outstanding musical homage, but one stellar recording.

Click here to listen to a clip of “East To West”.

Tracks: Lament, East To West, Miekkaniemi, Mocha Spice, Unified Field, Carenia, You And The Night.

Jeremy Pelt

Men of Honor
(HighNote Records)

If there was ever such a thing as, “this is what jazz should sound like”, then this, the latest from trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, is what jazz should sound like. Right from the top, Men of Honor is alive with an energy that can’t be ignored. Recorded at the famed Rudy Van Gelder studios in 24-bit digital audio, there’s a brightness to the sound quality that is matched by the quality musicianship on the project. Joining Pelt are tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen, pianist Danny Grissett, drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Dwayne Burno. A nice blend of high-octane swing and sophisticated ballads, this recording is one that does great honor to jazz past and present.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Without You”.

Tracks: Backroad, Milo Hayward, Brooklyn Bound, Danny Mack, From A Life of The Same Name, Illusion, Us/Them, Without You.

Tobia Gebb and Unit 7

Free At Last

Free At Last, the latest from drummer and composer Tobias Gebb, blends a first class roster of musicians with an energetic mix of originals and classics to great creative effect. For example, it’s not often that you hear a sitar (performed by Neel Murgai) in a jazz context, as is the case on his swinging, James Bond-ish arrangement of Lennon and McCartney’s “Tomorrow Never Knows”. There are equally clever renditions of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Softly As In A Morning Contemplation”. Gebbs own pieces leans towards the upbeat as heard on “Spitball” and “Blues For Drazen”, with “My Love” and the title track (dedicated to Barack Obama) on the more mellow side. Besides Gebbs stellar drumwork and writing, one can’t help but take note of the tight sound of the horn section. With the seasoned talents of Bobby Watson, Ron Blake, Joel Frahm and Stacy Dillard on saxophone, as well Joe Magnarelli on trumpet and flug
elhorn, it can’t help but be great. They join Ugonna Okegwo and Neal Miner on basses, along with Eldad Zvulun on piano. The combination of all these elements makes Free At Last, a quality listening experience.

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

Tracks: Blues For Drazen, My Love, Spitball, You Don’t Know What Love Is, Bop Be Dop, Free At Last, Softly As In A Morning Contemplation, Tomorrow Never Knows.

Tineke Postma

tineke_postmaA conversation with saxophonist Tineke Postma on her career and latest recording.


Show Review: A Great Sunday Afternoon with The Monterey Jazz Fest All-Stars

Feb. 28, 2010 – For a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon, we got to hang out with some very cool people and hear some very cool music. The occasion was the arrival of the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars at the Alys Robinson Stephens Perfoming Arts Center in Birmingham, Alabama.

The feature artists were recent Grammy Award winner, Kurt Elling, MacArthur Genius Grant Winner, violinist Regina Carter, master pianist Kenny Barron, guitar virtuoso Russell Malone, bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and drummer Johnathan Blake. The result of this collaboration of talent and venue was pure aural art.

Opening with a ensemble jam session that included a vocal/scat rendition of Thelonius Monk’s “Rhythm-A-Ning” and “When I Grow Too Old To Dream”, the program was a shifting showcase that gave each artist his–or her–moment to shine. Malone’s segment was the rendering version of the song “Like a Lover” in his trademark fingerworked guitar style. Elling offered a lovely version of his “And We Will Fly” and later, “You Are Too Beautiful”, which he introduced as a song from a Hartman/Coltrane tribute that he recorded, never mentioning that it had won him his first Grammy earlier this month.

Carter’s moment to shine, and shine she did, was on the Billie Holiday classic “Don’t Explain” with Barron accompanying her. In addtion to some tremendous piano solo, Barron’s nicest contribution to the set came in the form of “Theme Number One”, a tune he wrote for opening of small indie film called “Another Harvest Moon”, which he proclaimed in its introduction, “You’ll probably never see”.

Elling who was humble, witty and funny throughout, returned afterwards to remark, “That is a very cool tune for a Sunday afternoon, or Sunday morning, or anytime. I’m just sayin'”. When he added, “It might not be good NASCAR”, there was a roar of laughter from the house. The show closed with a rousing ovation and an encore of “Ok, Alright,You Win (I’m In Love With You)”.

Some critics of the show have been quick to say that the show is problematic, in that it doesn’t take chances, but given that these are shows for an audience that does not attend get to hear jazz artists of this calibur on a regular basis, it gets the job done (though Blake’s drum solos could be a little shorter).

The show proves that there’s something special about seeing a stage full of real music professionals at work that is inspiring and this is a more than solid lineup of players more than fits the bill in that regard.