Things To Come, the solo debut of the multi-talented Milton Suggs is a portrait of an artist destined for center stage among jazz vocalists. Suggs possesses a powerful voice that cannot be ignored, complimented by his talents as arranger and composer. Suggs wrote 8 of the album’s 13 tracks, and composed lyrics for tune written by Cedar Walton. His arranging gifts are seen throughout the entire project, including on an inspired take on the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome”. Suggs performances are enhanced by great musicianship from the likes of guitarist Larry Brown, Jr., organist Greg Spero, and trumpeter Marquis Hill among many others. We can only expect more great things from this burgeoning talent.
Tracks: We’ll See, My Last Goodby, Fantasy For Two, We Shall Overcome, Lift Every Voice and Sing, Seize The Moment, Not Forgotten, Cuz I’m In Love With You, Round Midnight, J.L.’s Blues (Every Night and Every Day), Your Smile, And I’ll Stay, Hope.
Saxophonist Myron Walden’s latest, Countryfied, captures the bluesy-soul of the great Memphis/Muscle Shoals recordings. Electric guitars and organ are integral to the sound here with Steven Elliot and Kenneth Salters handling the six strings on different tracks and Jared Gold on the keys. Walden blows like a torch on high energy tunes and finds the necessary subtleties of a ballads, the mix of which comprise the album’s eleven tracks, all composed by Walden, on a project that further demonstrates the brilliance of this incredibly versatile musician.
Tracks: Countryfied, What Will Be Will Be, I Cain’t Do Nomore, Through It All, Between Us, When My Body Gets Weak, Double Dippin’, Before You, I Get Lonely Sometimes, If It Wasn’t For My Pride, Happy Feet.
West Coast-based jazz vocalist Denise Donatelli says she was influenced more by instrumentalists than singers. She continues to work her craft magnificently on her latest recording When Lights Are Low. With a mix of well-known standards, like the title track, and others compositions by more contemporary songwriters, the project showcases the wonderful arrangements of pianist Geoffrey Keezer in various settings. There’s a nice mix songs with strings and flugelhorn and others with a basic jazz quartet. The album highlights excellent musicianship from Keezer, guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist Hamilton Price, drummer Jon Wikan, as well guest Ron Blake on saxophone. This package is a pleasing listening experience from an artist who knows her to deliver a lyric.
Tracks: It’s You Or No One, Don’t Explain, When Light Are Low, Big Lie, Small World, Why Did I Choose You, I Wish I Were In Love Again, Kisses (Cantor da noite), Foward, Like So,The Telephone Song, The Bed I Made, Enchantment (Firm Roots).
An encounter with gospel music sidetracked South Korean pianist Mina Cho from a career in classical music and into the world of jazz. Originality is the impressive recording debut for the 2009 Berkelee College of Music grad. Cho’s performances certainly give away her classical discipline, while the compositions’ syncopated rhythms provide colorful and improvisational landscapes to navigate. The melodic interplay between Cho and saxophonist Andrew Halchak is equally compelling. Also featured on the session are bassist Sam J.C. Lee, drummer Mario Rodriguez and guitarist Shu Odamura. Cho, who wrote all of the music on this recording, including lyrics for the vocal titled, “Because You Are Looking At Me”, is an incredibly gifted bright new light on the jazz skyline.