When talents of this calibur get together magic, not just great music, happens. This is exactly what we hear on Forever, a 2-CD set from pianist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White. For the three members of the seminal fusion band Return to Forever, this project is something of a return to their formative years, before the various incarnations of the more electrified band. The chemistry and musicianship here is no less electric. Disc one of the set features live performances from the trio in Seattle, Oakland and Tokyo. The second disc is an in-studio session recorded in preparation for a special concert featuring guest violinist Jean Luc-Ponty vocalist Chaka Khan, and Bill Connors who each have their own connection to earlier days of the band as well. The sparks of virtuosity which illuminated that paths of each of the three men at the heart of this effort are even more brilliant than when they first formed the unit, as hearing them together again makes plainly evident on this fantastic package.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Windows”.
Tracks: (Disc 1) On Green Dolphin Street, Waltz for Debby, Bud Powell, La Cancion de Sofia, Windows, Hackensack, No Mystery, Señor Mouse
(Disc 2) Captain Marvel, Senor Mouse, Crescent, Armando’s Rhumba, Renaissance, High Wire-The Aerialist, I Love You Porgy, After the Cosmic Rain, Space Circus, 500 Miles High .
James Farm is the debut of an exciting new quartet with familiar names and reputations for musical excellence. The band is comprised of saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland. The recording brims with kinetic energy between the four talents that is throughly engaging, as are the fresh and original compositions from the bandmates that make up the menu of this project. There is a chemistry here that could make this group a mainstay on the order of a new millenium Modern Jazz Quartet. Really a band worth checking out on this effort and, if possible, live on stage.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Polliwog”.
Tracks: Coax, Polliwog, Bijou, Crossing, Star-Crossed, 1981, I-10, Unravel, If By Air, Low Fives.
Though pianist-extraordinaire Eliane Elias has performed and lived in the U.S. for 30 years, her heart has never left Brazil and that’s especially evident on her latest effort, Light My Fire. The album is a mix of moods, though it leans towards a more laidback vibe, with a strong dose of bossa nova. Cover tunes like the Jim Morrison title track are put nicely through this filter, adding new flavor to the compositions. Elias is aided on this beautiful collection of music by an outstanding lists of talents, including guitarists Gilberto Gil, Oscar Castro-Neves and Romero Lubambo, drummer Paulo Braga and bassist Marc Johnson, who co-produced the album. The project also has a family touch, with the inclusion of singer-songwriter Amanda Brecker, Elias’ daughter with trumpeter Randy Brecker, who also performs on this fantastic recording.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Be Cool”.
Tracks: Rosa Morena, Stay Cool, Aquele Abraco, Light My Fire, Isto Aqui O Que É (Silver Sandal) My Chérie Amour, Toda Menina Baiana, Bananeira, Made in Moonlight, Turn to Me (Samba Maracatú) Take Five, What About The Heart (Bate Bate).
The expectation of a live recording from the formidable talents of saxophonist Lee Konitz, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian would be a high-flying, fireworks-laden set, but Live At Birdland is a more intimate laidback set that delivers virtuostic brilliance. The recording features these four accomplished names in jazz covering a selection of mostly standard ballads with considerable flair and artistry. The arrangements allow the members of the quartet to show their individual craftwork and that of the group as a whole. The immersion of the live audience in the performances here is as evident as the high level of musicianship to which they were witness.
Click here to listen to a clip of “You Stepped Out of Dream”.
Tracks: Lover Man, Lullaby of Birdland, Solar, I Fall In Love Too Easily, You Stepped Out of Dream, Oleo .
Ed Reed is a singer with great vocal chops, years and musical wisdom. His latest recording was born of a five night stand in Bern, Switzerland in 2009. The musical cameraderie from those nights became the genesis of this excellent recording. In fact, the wonderfully talented musicians on the gig became a part of this project. The ensemble includes Akira Tana on drums, Randy Porter on piano, Robb Fisher on bass and Anton Schwartz on tenor saxophones. The album is comprised Reed’s renditions of great standards, which he delivers like in the pleasing and enjoyable way of a veteran singer who knows his way around a song or two.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Old Country”.
Tracks: Old Country, Born To be Blue, Inside a Silent Tear, Throw it Away, All My Tomorrows, End of a Love Affair, She’s Funny That Way, Your’d Looking at Me, Some Other Time, Never Kiss and Run, Monk’s Dream, How Am I to Know, Wee Baby Blues .
What’s It All About is the latest from guitar virtuoso and musical explorer Pat Metheny. This solo effort which has the Missouri native returning once again to the baritone guitar he featured on a previous recording, but what’s different this time is that the project is an re-telling of some of Metheny’s favorite compositions by other composers.The album features works by Paul Simon, Lennon & McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Henry Mancini among others. But these are not merely instrumental rehashes, instead the songs are broken down and re-assembled in Metheny’s own magical, resounding style.
Click here to listen to a clip of “And I Love Her”.
Tracks: The Sound of Silence, Cherish, Alfie, Pipeline, Garota De Ipanema, Rainy Days and Mondays, That’s The Way I Heard It Should Be, Slow Hot Wind, Betcha By Golly Wow, And I Love Her .
Singers and songwriters Amikaeyla Gaston and Trelawny Rose have long shared a common love for heralded vocalist/songwriter Eva Cassidy, whose life was cut short in 1996 by cancer when she was 36 years old. Rose and Gaston have assembled a fantastic tribute to their musical icon. The project was recorded live at the famed Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, California. The harmonies and vocal blend of the two singers is outstanding and they are aided by tremendous musicianship from a lineup comprised of Wayne Wallace on trombone, David Belove on bass, John Santos on percussion, Simon Rochester on keys, David Flores on drums and Vince Mellone on guitar. The combination of all involved makes for a fantastic homage to Cassidy.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Songbird”.
Tracks: Fields of Gold, Songbird, Prelude, Over The Rainbow, Time After Time, Autumn Leaves, Prayer For Eva, Kathy’s Song, People Get Ready, Nightbird, Danny Boy, Tall Trees, Wonderful World .