Flute master Dave Valentin leads a great lineup on this project and though his name is at the top of the recording, this is definitely a group effort. Pure Imagination has Valentin teaming with pianist Bill O’Connell, with whom he has worked for the past 30 years, to create another soaring virtuoso production. O’Connell not only arranged the music, but adds amazing pianissimo to the solos he provides on the tunes. The rhythm section of Ruben Rodriguez on bass, Richie Flores on percussion, Robby Ameen on drums, provides incredible contributions as well. Brilliant sound engineering on the recording allows the work of these great artists to come through spectacularly and Valentin is as amazing as ever on his axe.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Joy”.
Tracks: Smile, Slip and Slide, Joy, Pure Imagination, Hummingbird, See -Saw, When Sunny Gets Blue, Cat Man, Last Minute .
Singer Yvonne Washington and pianist Gary Norian first met in a church, some ten years before the release of this recording. When Norian heard her rendition of “Amazing Grace, he knew she was something special. Trust In Me is the magical colloboration between Washington and Norian. The production features Washington’s vocals and Norian’s piano exclusively. The songs chosen on the album are a blend of originals and classics, nicely re-constructed by Norian. The two talents really have a rapport with each other that comes across in the music, and it’s wonderful to hear both of them so dynamically, with no other instrumentation in the way.
Click here to listen to a clip of “On The Sunny Side of The Street”.
Tracks: Autumn Leaves, Trust In Me, The Look of Love, Your Dreams Are On Their Way, When You’re Smiling, Amazing Grace, A Kiss to Build a Dream On, My Funny Valentine, On The Sunny Side of The Street, The Nearness of You, Pure Imagination, Summertime.
The three gentleman that are Deep Blue Organ Trio can play anything and make it sound good. On their latest recording, Wonderful, Hammond-B3 organist Chris Foreman, guitarist Bobby Broom and drummer Greg Rockingham put the music of Stevie Wonder through their filter and the result is as thoroughly great as as listener to their past work would expect. The trio organically (no pun intended) reboot the tunes in their idiom brilliantly. As with much of the work of the three-man Chicago-based musical institution in-the-pocket soul-stirring, groove is at the center of this terrific recording.
Click here to listen to a clip of “You Haven’t Done Nothin'”.
Tracks: Tell Me Something Good, If You Really Love Me, Jesus Children of America, My Cherie Amour, Golden Lady, You Haven’t Done Nothin’, It Ain’t No Use, As, You Got It Bad Girl.
Brookyln, NY-based singer Andrea Wolper has a warm, earthy, slightly-bluesy voice that can not be ignored. Her latest recording, Parallel Lives is the kind of music that you might hear while out somewhere, and find yourself asking, “Who is that?” The album is Wolper’s take on tunes, mostly by other composers, like Hoagy Carmichael, Joni Mitchell, Buffy Saint Marie and Richard Rodgers. It’s a pretty diverse menu, but she manages it all quite well. The project features Kris Davis on piano, Michael Howell on guitar, Ken Filiano on bass and Michael Thompson on drums. This is one worth checking out.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Waiting For Winter”.
Tracks: Song To Seagull, The Girls Are In Their Dresses, Why Aren’t You Laughing?, Skylark, Who Will Buy?, June Rose, Maple Sugar Boy, Blue Wind; Be Cool, Something Good, Waiting For Winter, Save Your Love For Me.
Vocalist Giacomo Gates was the first choice of producer Mark Ruffin, when he decided to produce a tribute to genius and genuineness of the late Gil Scott-Heron and his work. The Revolution Will Be Jazz is the superb result of their collaboration. Gates smooth crooning evokes much of the spirit of Scott-Herron, but in his own way. He covers many of the late singer’s more well-known works and a few that are lesser known, but no less representative of his truth-singing vibe. Gates gives the production swing, as well as soul. He’s joined by a terrific band, which has John Di Martino is on piano, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, Tony Lombardozzi on guitar, Victor Ector on drums and Claire Daly, who plays flute and saxophone on several tracks. The album is a wonderful and very worthy musical homage.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Legend In His Own Mind”.
Tracks: Show Bizness, This Is A Prayer For Everybody To Be Free, Lady Day and John Coltrane, Legend In His Own Mind, Madison Avenue, Gun, Winter In America, Is That Jazz, New York City, It’s Your World.
The Dawn of Light is some of saxophonist Tineke Postma’s best work to date. Evident in this, her fifth album, is her expansion as a composer as well as a musician. She continues to forge a path that is musically palatable and artistically expressive. The compositions on this recording, most of which she wrote, are both cerebral and ethereal. She’s joined by a quartet of musicians that she has worked with individually over the years, but never together, until this effort. The band is comprised of Marc Van Roon on piano, Martijn Vink on drums and Frans Van Der Hoeven on bass. Esperanza Spalding sings on the project’s only vocal track, which was inspired by a Pablo Neruda poem. This work is another enjoyable milepost on Postma’s wonderful musical journey.
Click here to listen to a clip of “The Observer”.
Tracks: Cancäo de Amor (Suite I Na Floresta Do Amazonas), Falling Scales, Before the Snow, Leave Me a Place Underground, The Observer, Off Minor, Newland, The Man Who Stared at Coats, Beyond Category, Tell It Like It Is.
A prolific creator of music, pianist Armen Donelian’s latest recording Leapfrog is a continued foray into the interplay of musicians. Donelian has a terrific touch at the keys and notes, writing all but one of the tunes on a project that speaks in more contemporary musical vernacular. His compositions have a very fusionesque quality that serves as a solid platform for the musicians on the recording to display their individual virtuosity. Joining Donelian on this project is a very skilled quintet of guitarist Mike Moreno, bassist Dean Johnson, drummer Tyshawn Johnson and saxophonist Marc Mommaas. A very worthy artistic and contemplative effort.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Behind The Veil”.
Tracks: Rage, The Poet, Winter, Behind The Veil, Bygone, Smoke, Mexico, Inner Sanctum.
Voice of My Beautiful Country is vocalist René Marie’s beautiful tribute to the music that shaped and informs her Americanness. A wide cross-section of songs from pop to traditional, covering an aural landscape that ranges from Frances Scott Key to Jefferson Airplane, makes up the menu of this fantastic recording. The singer has a way of bringing out new emotions in a song that is all her own and fosters an air of creative freedom in the musicians that makes her project that much more incredible. The instrumental lineup on this project is Kevin Bales on piano, Quentin Baxter on drums and Rodney Jordan on bass. This is arguably one of René Marie’s best efforts and that is saying a lot, given the considerable quality of her work.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Strange Meadow Lark”.
Tracks: Strange Meadow Lark, Shenandoah, Imagination, Just My Imagination, White Rabbit, Drift Away, John Henry, Angelitos Negros, (Voice of My Beautiful Country Suite) America, The Beautiful, Drum Battle, Piano Blues, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing/Star Spangled Banner, America The Beautiful Reprise.
Ninety Miles is the collaboration of the incredible talents of vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sanchez and trumpeter Christian Scott in a recording made in Cuba with some of that country’s great young musical talents. The Cuban artists include pianists Rember Duharte and Harold López-Nussa, percussionist Edgar Martinez Ochoa, and bassist Osmar Salazar, among others. Together the collective performs compositions by several of the players including Harris, Sanchez and López-Nussa. The interplay of cultures results in some outstanding sonic art. The amazing disc of music is accompanied by a separate DVD disc, which includes a six-minute preview of a documentary on the project and two tremendous performances of compositions on the album. This is a must-hear and must-see work and a testament to the power of music to overcome divides, no matter the miles in-between.
Click here to listen to a clip of “La Fiesta Va”.
Tracks: Ñengueleru, E’cha, City Sunrise, The Forgotten Ones, Black Action Figure, Congo, And This Too Shall Pass, Brown Belle Blues, La Fiesta Va.