Monthly Archives: February 2011

Robert Hurst – Unrehurst, Vol.2 – Bob Ya Head

(Bebob Music)

 Robert Hurst, who spent eighteen years in the bass chair at the Tonight Show, is out with not one, but two bold new recordings. UnRehurst ,Vol. 2 has Hurst in a trio setting with the herald-pianist Robert Glasper and the equally exciting Chris Dave on drums. Recorded at the New York jazz club Smoke, the recording fits its name as the three musicians had no opportunity to rehearse due to the intervention of a record snowfall. So what you hear is the raw genius of three professional artisans working together as smoothly as the gears in a high performance sports car. On Bob Ya Head , Hurst takes things in a much more electronic sonic direction. The album fuses samples with voice and varied musician configuration to create an aural landscape that can be challenging and hypnotic to the ear; an example is the track “Unintelectual Property, which weaves the musical performance around the juxtaposed speeches of presidents Barack Obama and George W.Bush. The project features the talents of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, drummer Karriem Riggins, saxophonist Victor Bowens and percussionist Darryl “Munyango” Jackson, among others. Both these recordings by Hurst present incredibly  creative and engaging listening experiences worth hearing.

Click here to listen to a clip of “I Love You” from Unrehurst, Vol. 2.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Unintelectual Property” from Bob Ya Head.

Tracks (on UnRehurst, Vol 2): I Love You, Truth Revealed, Bob’s 5/4 Tune, Monk’s Dream, Bob’s Blues.

Tracks (on Bob Ya Head): Obama Victory Dance, Optimisim, X Static, Comes You Comes Love, Forty Four, Da, Da, Da, Dah, Munyango In Da Jungle, Oral Roberto, Alice and John, Unintellectual Property, When Drums Stop.


Russell Malone – Triple Play


Triple Play is simply Russell Malone at his best. Believe it or not, this is Malone’s first trio album, as he didn’t think he was ready – until now. Well, the time is right. Malone sounds like the master of the guitar he’s become in the 20 or more years since his first recording. The chemistry between the Georgia-born Malone and his trio of Montez Coleman on drums and David Wong on bass is superb. The musicians explore a range of tunes of diverse moods, including compositions by Oliver Nelson, Cole Porter, Ron Carter, Marilyn and Alan Bergman and Quincy Jones, among others. There also 4 tracks written by Malone, including a slightly funkier arranagement of his “Sweet Georgia Peach”. As well demonstrated on this effort, Malone still possesses the bright tone and virtuostic brilliance which has drawn fans to his work for many years.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Sweet Georgia Peach”.

Tracks: Honeybone, Butch and Butch, Pecan Pie, Sweet Georgia Peach, Do I Love You, Pocketwatch, The Witching Hour, Tail Feathers, The Kind of Girl She Is, Mind Wine, Unchained Melody.


Tony Guerrero – Blue Room

(Charleston Square Recordings)

Veteran flugelhorn and trumpet player Tony Guerrero has that ‘sweet sound’ that horn players work hard to achieve. On his latest recording, Blue Room, that sound comes through, and so too does the sense of joy in his playing. The recording is a finger-snapper that grabs you and doesn’t let go from beginning to end, morphing from a quartet effort into a multi-horn big band at times. The project’s 13 tracks are comprised of nine popular standards, as well as two written by Guerrero. He’s joined on the effort by a solid group of musicians, including pianist Llew Matthews, bassist Dave Enos, drummer Matt Johnson, guitarist Jamie Findlay, as well as saxophonists Doug Webb and Rober Kyle, pianist Frank Giebels and Hammond B3 organist Joe Bagg. Fantastic performances by all make this a stellar product that must be heard.  

Click here to listen to a clip of “Blue Room”.

Tracks: It’s Only a Paper Moon, Just a Few, Black Orpheus, Carumba, Body and Soul, Blue Room, Dizzy Does It, My Secret Love, Fluegel Bugle Blues, Over The Rainbow, Candy (for Candice), My Romance.


Matthew Rybicki – Driven

(Matthew Rybicki Music)

After many years working behind the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Terrell Stafford, Nneena Freelon and host of others, 37-year old Cleveland-born, New York-based Matthew Rybicki offers an impressive debut recording in Driven. The bassist and composer presents nine fresh, self-written tunes, along with two interesting covers. Rybicki also fields a first class musical line-up to bring this music to life, with Gerald Clayton on piano, Ron Blake on saxophone, Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums Freddie Hendrix on trumpet and Michael Dease on trombone. The project is a lively, swinging set with Rybicki driving the action, as much as laying down the bottom floor.

Click here to listen to a clip of “The Slow Stride”.

Tracks: The Slow Stride, Seventh Sun, A Mean Lean, Yellow Bird, Lisa’s Song, Big Money and the Left Side, Someday I May Be Far Away, Driven, Lowcountry Boil, Secret Love, Nouakchott.


Esperanza Spalding Is Grammy’s 2011 Best New Artist

In the past decade there has been a steady movement away from presenting jazz at the Grammy Awards primetime telecast, so it came as a shock to many people when bassist/composer Esperanza Spalding was presented the Best New Artist Award at 53rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremonies. Spalding was the choice of a majority of NARAS voters.

The award had been expected by most to go to popular teen vocalist Justin Bieber among 4 other nominees which included, Drake, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons 

Spalding, in shock, thanked the Academy for the “tremendous honor”. Anyone who has met the 26-year old young woman knows what a gracious person she is, and if you’ve talked to her, you know how serious she is about music.

In the past few days since the awards, there have been questions about Esperanza’s win and what it means for jazz. No one knows. What really matters is that more of the world is now getting to know about this amazing young women whose effusive love for music makes her one of the best things that has happened to jazz, in particular, and music in general, in some time. We’re glad that a majority of NARAS voters saw it that way.

Kurt Elling – The Gate

(Concord Records)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more inventive vocalist in music today than Kurt Elling. On The Gate, produced with Don Was, Elling finds the gem in songs most music lovers have heard for over the past 40 years, but not in the way he presents them. The thrill in listening to each of his successive record is to hear what magic Elling is going to bring next, and with the able arranging of his longtime musical collaborator, Laurence Hobgood, this project does not disappoint. The Chicago-based singer takes on Joe Jackson’s 80’s pop radio tune “Steppin’ Out” and turns it into a groovin’, cool number that sounds as if it would have been right at home in the Sinatra repertoire. No matter what the song, it’s like hearing them for the first time through Elling’s able tones. But it’s not just his voice that makes an Elling project an event. On “Night Town, Lady Bright”, he also adds well-crafted lyrics to Don Grolnick’s tune and artfully weaves in a Duke Ellington quote to great effect. In addition to Hobgood on piano, Bob Mintzer is featured on saxophone, John McLean on guitar, John Patitucci on bass, Lenny Castro on percussion, with Terreon Gully and Kobie Watkins playing drums on various tracks. His first studio effort since 2007, this is yet another Elling recording that serves as further testament to his genius.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Steppin’ Out”.

Tracks: Matte Kudasai, Steppin’ Out, Come Running To Me, Norwegian Wood, Blue In Gree, Samurai Cowboy, After The Love Has Gone, Golden Lady, Nighttown/Lady Bright.


Grace Kelly – Phil Woods – Man With The Hat

(Grace Kelly Music)

This recording is a great musical conversation between two generations of saxophonists. On Man With The Hat, alto saxophonist/vocalist Grace Kelly teams up with saxophone legend Phil Woods for the second of her duet projects with musical heroes (her previous project had her working with Lee Konitz). There’s a natural resonsance to the sound that makes you feel as though you’re in the room. Woods is featured on 4 of the projects’ seven tracks. The backing crew is a mix of players who’ve played with each of the leads here. Monty Alexander is on piano, Evan Gregor is in on bass, Bill Goodwin is on drums and Jordan Perlson is on percussion. The project features Kelly throughout in various combinations and providing beautiful vocals on a number of tracks, proving herself a wonderfully versatile talent.

Click here to listen to a clip of “The Way You Look Tonight”.

Tracks: Man With The Hat, Love Song From Brazilian Suite, People Time, Ballad For Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus-Eaters, Gone, Every Time We Say Goodbye, The Way You Look Tonight.